In its seventh year of providing thought-provoking conversations with workers’ compensation industry leaders, Out Front Ideas with Kimberly and Mark, hosted by Kimberly George of Sedgwick and Mark Walls of Safety National, is ready to bring the conversation up a notch with its second annual virtual conference. Now, armed with more data and lessons learned, the two-day virtual conference, Elevate, will provide a more holistic overview of the effects on employers, injured workers and the economy.
We sat down with Mark Walls, Vice President – Communications & Strategic Analysis at Safety National to discuss the vision behind this year’s conference and what he hopes attendees will take away from over 20 expert panelists.
Q: This is Out Front Ideas’ second virtual conference. Tell me why you chose the theme, “Elevate,” and what it means regarding these industry conversations.
A: Out Front Ideas continually strives to take the conversations to a different level, reframing familiar conversations and discussing the topics not being covered at other industry events. That has always been our objective. The theme “Elevate” was born from the goal of elevating these conversations to the next level and elevating awareness around issues specifically impacting our audience.
Q: Which sessions are you most looking forward to and why?
A: I am very excited about the keynotes since those speakers bring a particular level of expertise that attendees will not be able to get from any other industry conference. Also, The Bigger Picture of COVID-19 Claims Data session is intriguing, especially since I have not yet seen what data will be presented. The information is so current that it is being compiled as we speak. I am very curious to see what has changed since we presented this topic in our February webinar, including how claims have continued to develop and what new trends are present. The data usually available to our industry is six months behind, so to see data this current, which is invaluable to our industry, is incredible.
Q: There is a wide variety of expertise represented among the guest speakers. How does this help elevate the conversation?
A: We made sure to include experts from the employers and risk management community because they ultimately drive everything in this industry. The Future of Risk Management panel, moderated by David Stills of Sedgwick, features four panelists from different industries, each providing unique viewpoints on how their roles are changing and their challenges. The Employer Trends Shaping the Workplace panel also features large employers with HR backgrounds that will focus on how they have adjusted workplace accommodations, evolving benefits and how they are retracting and retaining talent.
Q: Why is the content of this conference so valuable to workers’ compensation and risk management professionals?
A: As someone who regularly attends conferences, I have seen a lot of consistent formatting, and I am constantly trying to raise the bar. This conference provides incredible depth and expertise with a wide variety of viewpoints. There are no weak spots or filler sessions. The entire event focuses on providing our audience with applicable information to assist them in their roles and better serve their workforce and clients. And with the uncertainty around in-person events, this virtual format allows registrants to view the content live or on-demand.
Q: With the industry’s significant shifts over the last year, what are the most pertinent takeaways for attendees?
A: Our nationally-recognized keynotes, Steve Friedman and Dr. Pearl, will discuss business and the economy and healthcare in the U.S.— topics that are critical to our industry. All of our sessions will divulge some of the greatest challenges facing our clients, including trends in the insurance marketplace, how those challenges impact risk managers and how the risk management role has changed over the last couple of years. Attendees will get an important employer perspective on how the workplace has changed and the challenges of recruiting and retaining employees. We will also discuss how case management is evolving and its ability to positively impact the lives of injured workers. COVID-19 has been the most substantial issue in the last two years, and the COVID-19 claims data session will provide the most complete and current viewpoint from any source on how the pandemic has impacted the workers’ compensation industry. Finally, Dr. Beth Darnall, one of the leading pain management researchers in the world, will be discussing her latest efforts in addressing long-term pain, which is one of the biggest challenges facing workers’ compensation.
Elevate: An Out Front Ideas Virtual Conference runs September 21-22, 2021 and there is no cost to attend. Register and view the full agenda for the conference here.