RiskMD; Risk Management for Today and Beyond

Risk management is foundational to the insurance industry at large.  Not only as a means to ensure the pricing integrity of insurance products, but most importantly, to continue to achieve and maintain safer, healthier environments for all.   Innovation in this space should be recognized, encouraged and celebrated.  To that end, we celebrate RiskMD!

RiskMD holds one of (if not the) only patents specific to PEO.  This patented business intelligence platform organizes insurance-related data in a proprietary way to empower risk managers and insurance executives to completely change the way they approach decision making.

Risk managers and insurance executives spend countless hours poring over numbers in search of opportunities to mitigate losses and increase profitability. This requires many hours of tedious work, compiling and deciphering mountains data using multiple complex tools, and the experience and instincts to find actionable insights.

RiskMD completely reshapes this process. The technology seamlessly automates data aggregation and integration to provide clear and meaningful insights with detailed and impactful visualizations. It gives users the ability to schedule recurring reports for quick and easy insights on demand, while also allowing for more advanced users to dig deep into the numbers and find the most granular of opportunities.

What makes RiskMD unique? Where did the concept come from?

Risk MD is an insurance data analytics tool that was built with the goal of changing the way the industry uses data to understand loss ratios and maximize profitability for any given insurance transaction. It’s a system and method for the valuation, acquisition, and management of insurance data. The concept was developed by Paul Hughes, the Founder and CEO of RiskMD, with the idea of bringing the mentality of stock trading analytics to the insurance world.

This system follows a patented process that uses a common identifier, the Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) to efficiently and effectively aggregate data in a new and powerful way. The process makes it possible to funnel data into the system without the need for labor-intensive manual input.

The use of FEIN also enables a more precise normalization of the data so that it can be more easily manipulated. This allows users to easily drill down to a deeper level for more impactful insights.

Another unique feature of the tool is that it’s designed to produce insights, rather than requiring users to find the insights themselves. Without RiskMD, risk managers and insurance executives have to dedicate countless hours to building and manipulating spreadsheets and pivot tables, then try to search the resulting data points to verify whatever insights are available to be found. RiskMD compiles the data much more efficiently and can be pre-programmed to surface the most important insights automatically, presenting them visually through the use of graphs, tables, and charts.

Whether risk managers and insurance executives are using it to manipulate data in real-time on their own or relying on custom reports that are delivered automatically, those using RiskMD have a competitive advantage over those who don’t.

How is RiskMD relevant to core concerns of risk managers?

One of the most critically important concerns for insurance executives is to maintain profitability across a book of business. They manage the total cost of risk, which can come from claims paid, or dollar values that are paid internally within a deductible limit, and additional costs that aren’t easily quantified, like the value of opportunity costs missed. Their ability to do this depends heavily on using data to gain an understanding of which accounts might create profitability issues. Without knowing which accounts are presenting exposure points and fueling losses, a risk manager cannot effectively manage them. This leads to reactionary behaviors rather than proactive ones.  Minor “hot spots” can become major loss leaders.

It gives the ability to quickly and easily see loss ratios for each account or exposure in their book of business, in real-time, through visualizations. If profitability is the macro problem, RiskMD is a tool that helps take a granular look to find the micro issues that cause that macro problem.  This prevention-based approach maximizes profitability.

How is RiskMD effective in solving one or more problems in the risk management process?

Managing risk effectively and profitably relies on finding and addressing loss leaders proactively. To do this, risk managers face the problem of compiling and deciphering large quantities of data. This process is labor-intensive, time-consuming, and typically requires a deep knowledge of multiple data manipulation tools.  Even with all the tools and manpower, the problem is often compounded when insights are unfound, like a needle in a haystack.

At its core, RiskMD is a risk assessment and analysis tool. It simplifies the data evaluation process and allows C-Level Executives and Risk Managers to discover key insights that help them make better business decisions. Using visualizations for risk identification makes insights easier to find and understand at all levels. Delivering performance metrics in real time through visualizations ensures that the internal and external stakeholders of an insurance transaction can always “keep score.”

How is RiskMD presented to risk managers to ensure ease of understanding and use.

RiskMD is an incredibly robust data analysis tool. The sheer volume of information and insights that it provides can be overwhelming. With that in mind the platform was specifically designed to make those insights as easy to access as possible using Tableau Software, which is the industry standard for user-friendly data visualization.

Using the automatic data-input process and the interpretations made possible by the proprietary algorithms, RiskMD delivers insights to the user or insurance executive in the form of graphs, tables, and customizable gauges. These visualizations are designed to make understanding the insights simple and easy enough for any user to understand. They are color-coded in a green-to-red, “stoplight” method that makes quickly understanding areas of potential risk easier.

RiskMD provides automated reports that can be built once and then scheduled for direct delivery at the desired interval. This allows a more hands-off approach in which the most important indicators are delivered directly to the user’s desk, ensuring consistent oversight.

For users with a higher degree of data acumen, RiskMD allows them to pull various levers and manipulate data to gain deep and precise insights that would otherwise be extremely time-consuming to uncover. This ability to “slice and dice” information provides a level of understanding that makes a user’s ability to mitigate potential losses invaluable.

What results and objectives are achieved by RiskMD in a risk management setting.

Benchmarks are instrumental in providing key insights using data. RiskMD houses more than 100,000 claims files and exposure data for more than 20,000 client companies. This cache of data allows RiskMD users to benchmark against RiskMD proprietary data, as well as industry data. That ability to benchmark against the proprietary data became incredibly useful during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The insurance industry cycles through exposure, premium, and claims data on a period of about 12-18 months when accounting for audit periods. RiskMD cycles through this data on a bi-monthly basis due to data ingestion from its expansive PEO clientele, which report on a “pay-as-you-go” basis. When the global Coronavirus pandemic shut down the economy and upended the industry, NCCI, the preeminent Workers’ Compensation Bureau, contacted RiskMD for insights on how COVID was affecting claims and payroll.  RiskMD was the only known source that could provide real-time insights on jobs and job-related COVID claims. RiskMD provided NCCI with important insights as to how COVID affected jobs and payroll nationwide by quantifying claims incurred versus the reduced premiums collected.  This accurate capture of loss ratio was simply not available anywhere else due to the proprietary source of “pay-as-you-go” payroll exposure information.

Cyber Villains’ Strike Again!

The Verge reported on Wednesday, October 6th, 2021 that cyber villains unknow have struck again!  This time targeting Twitch, an content sharing and streaming platform owned by Amazon. 

The Verge had the following report, which can be found at https://www.theverge.com/2021/10/6/22712250/twitch-hack-leak-data-streamer-revenue-steam-competitor

Twitch source code and creator payouts part of massive leak

The leaked data also includes a Steam competitor

Twitch appears to have been hacked, leaking source code for the company’s streaming service, an unreleased Steam competitor from Amazon Game Studios, and details of creator payouts. An anonymous poster on the 4chan messaging board has released a 125GB torrent, which they claim includes the entirety of Twitch and its commit history.

The poster claims the leak is designed to “foster more disruption and competition in the online video streaming space.” The Verge is able to confirm that the leak is legitimate, and includes code that is as recent as this week. Video Games Chronicle first reported details on the leak earlier today.

Twitch has confirmed it has suffered a data breach, and the company says it’s “working with urgency to understand the extent of this.”

The leak includes the following:

  • 3 years worth of details regarding creator payouts on Twitch.
  • The entirety of twitch.tv, “with commit history going back to its early beginnings.”
  • Source code for the mobile, desktop, and video game console Twitch clients.
  • Code related to proprietary SDKs and internal AWS services used by Twitch.
  • An unreleased Steam competitor from Amazon Game Studios.
  • Data on other Twitch properties like IGDB and CurseForge.
  • Twitch’s internal security tools.

The leak is labelled as “part one,” suggesting there could be more to come. Video Games Chronicle reports that Twitch is aware of the breach, but the company has not yet informed its userbase.

The leak doesn’t appear to include password or address information on Twitch users, but that doesn’t mean this information hasn’t been obtained as part of this breach. In fact, the leaker seems to have focused on sharing Twitch’s own company tools and information, rather than code that would include personal accounts.

While Twitch has confirmed a data breach, it’s still unclear exactly how much data has been stolen. We’d recommend changing your Twitch password and enabling two-factor authentication on your account if you haven’t done so already.

Twitch has been struggling to contain ongoing hate and harassment recently. After weeks of hate raids, some Twitch streamers took a day off in August to protest against the company’s lack of action. Twitch has responded to the #DoBetterTwitch movement, and it’s a hashtag that the anonymous poster has used today to promote this leak.

Updates on the Twitch security incident can be found on the platform’s own website at https://blog.twitch.tv/en/2021/10/06/updates-on-the-twitch-security-incident/

OSHA Guidelines on Hurricane Preparedness and Response

Summer has ended and we now enter that wonderful time of year when evening shadows dawdle, and dawn hesitates on the horizon a bit longer each morning.  Even as the days begin to shorten and the breeze brandishes a hint of cool, hurricane season persists.  The last day of hurricane season 2021 is not until November 30th.  We are 127 days into this season with 21 named storms so far, averaging 1 storm every 6.05 days; and we have 55 days yet to go!   

That being said, I felt it valuable to share the following hurricane preparedness and response guidelines from OSHA.  Full content from OSHA on this topic can be found at https://www.osha.gov/hurricane.

Hurricanes are a form of tropical cyclones that are capable of causing devastating damage to communities. Hurricanes are storm systems with circulating air and sustained wind speeds of 74 miles per hour or higher. The strongest hurricanes can have wind speeds exceeding 155 miles per hour. Areas on the Atlantic Coast, near the Gulf of Mexico, as well as parts of the Southwestern United States are vulnerable to hurricanes. The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June to November and peaks between August and October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins mid May and also ends in November. This page provides information on hurricane warnings, hazards that hurricanes cause, and precautions that workers and employers should take after a hurricane has occurred.

The Preparedness page outlines the warnings and watches used for hurricanes, including the five categories used to rate the strength of a hurricane. The page also contains information on creating evacuation plans and supply kits.

The Response/Recovery page features a link to OSHA’s Hurricane eMatrix, which features information on hazard exposures and risk assessments for hurricane response and recovery work. The information in the matrix is organized based on the types of activities performed so that it is easy for workers to identify the precautions they should take based on the tasks they will be performing.

OSHA and NOAA are working together on a public education effort aimed at improving the way people prepare for and respond to severe weather. This page is designed to help businesses and their workers prepare for hurricanes, and to provide information about hazards that workers may face during and after a hurricane.

Employer Responsibilities

Each employer is responsible for the safety and health of its workers and for providing a safe and healthful workplace for its workers. Employers are required to protect workers from the anticipated hazards associated with the response and recovery operations that workers are likely to conduct. For additional information on Workers’ Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA’s Employers PageWorkers Page and Publications.

Workers’ Compensation Rates Continue to Decline

We once again find ourselves heading into a wonderful time of year.  A time which brings about goldening leaves on trees, a discernible chill on the morning breeze, pumpkin spice everything, and new workers’ compensation loss cots and rate sets!  So far 2022 is promising to bring about another wave of rate decreases. 

New York is first out of the gate, approving an overall rate decrease of 6.4% effective 10/1/2021.  The state advises that this loss cost revision reflects the experience of the two most recent policy years, as well as projected trends, benefit level changes, and changes in loss adjustment expenses.

According to the attached 2021 Loss Cost Filing the proposed loss cost change is based on the latest financial data reported by the Rating Board’s member carriers, which includes losses resulting from the COVID­19 pandemic, and was derived by applying Rating Board’s standard ratemaking methodology. The terrorism and catastrophe loss cost provisions have also been updated with this revision. However, no explicit load for the risk of pandemics is included.

Florida followed suite announcing on Friday, 8/27/2021 a proposed overall rate decrease of 4.9%.  If approved, these reduced rates will take effect on 1/1/2022.  This continues the trend of continually dropping rates which Florida has been witnessing since 2016. 

We will continue to monitor this activity and keep you informed as more states propose and approve the 2022 loss costs. 

Preventing Turnover Post-pandemic

The wake of COVID-19 leaves in its path a tattered and disheveled global supply chain in nearly every industry sector imaginable.  Everything from high end computer processors to basic building supplies like lumber to commodities as fundamental as toilet paper have been impacted.  As the vaccinated slowly begin to emerge and life resumes, a new supply chain shortage emerges – that of human capital. 

The need for a capable and willing workforce is evident in every corner of commerce. One impactful way for an employer to address this need is to retain the employees they already have.  To this end, I share with you the following HR Insights article published by Zywave on Preventing Turnover Post-pandemic. 

A pdf of the article can be downloaded by clicking here. 

Preventing Turnover Post-pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is finally getting under control. As more Americans get vaccinated, states are gradually lifting restrictions, and life is returning to pre-pandemic normalcy. Finally, individuals can get to the tasks they’ve been postponing for more than a year. Unfortunately for employers looking to retain employees, some employees are now ready to find new jobs.

Current Job Market Outlook

Turnover is a common occurrence throughout any given year. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, year-over-year turnover trends drastically reduced. Workers instead clung to their jobs as a way to maintain financial security, having seen countless others get furloughed or laid off.

Now, as the economy opens back up, employers are pushing for employees to return to the workplace. But, a significant number of employees are unwilling to return to the status quo that was established pre-pandemic.

Instead, they are taking stock of their current positions and contemplating what they truly want out of their jobs. For some, the most direct path toward their goals is to find a new employer.

That’s why experts are predicting a “turnover tsunami” coming in the latter half of 2021; all the turnover that would typically take place in a given year is expected to come virtually all at once.

What Employees Want Post-pandemic

Each organization is unique, and its employees may have varying opinions about what’s most important to them. However, workplace survey data from the past year illuminates some commonalities between worker desires across industries. The following are some of the most coveted changes workers are looking for post-pandemic.

Remote or Hybrid Work Models

Many employees were forced to work from home at the start of the pandemic. As businesses reopen, employees are reluctant to return now that they’ve tasted greater flexibility and autonomy.

In fact, 47% of employees said they would leave their current jobs if their employers forced them back into the workplace, according to an Envoy survey. Additionally, 41% of employees said they would take a job with a slight salary cut if it meant having a hybrid work model (working some days in the office, others from home).

Given this and other data from countless surveys conducted in the past year, it’s apparent that employees want at least some remote work opportunities. And they are willing to leave their current employers to get it.

While remote or hybrid work is perhaps the most desired workplace perk at the moment, it’s not all that employees want.

Protection From Burnout

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many employees feeling burned out and overworked. According to an Indeed survey, 52% of employees are experiencing burnout, and 67% say burnout has increased during the pandemic.

Worse yet, now that businesses are reopening in full force, employee workloads are likely to increase rather than reduce. This increase is spurring employees to lobby for greater mental health benefits, time off and other resources for reducing stress levels.

Greater Compensation

Compensation has been an employee motivator well before the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s particularly salient now. Across the country, the most recent example of this has been among fast food and retail workers. These segments have been working throughout the pandemic amid strict constraints, reduced staffing and elevated dangers.

Now, many industry workers are demanding better pay and benefits as compensation for their continued efforts—even walking out or quitting when their efforts are disregarded. In fact, 35% of surveyed employees said they would leave their current jobs for better compensation and benefits, according to an Achievers Workforce Institute report.

Turnover Prevention Considerations for Employers

At this point, it’s clear that a significant number of employees are feeling restless in their current roles. According to that same Achievers Workforce Institute report, only 21% of employees feel very engaged at work. Additionally, nearly half of respondents (46%) said they feel less connected to their workplace now than at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To combat these trends and avert a “turnover tsunami,” employers will need to look inward toward their unique employee populations. This inquiry may include directly asking employees about their current mindsets (i.e., whether they’re considering quitting) and what concessions would make them stay with the organization.

Generally, employers can also consider implementing some of the changes employees are looking for, such as:

  • Providing remote or hybrid working arrangements
  • Expanding employee assistance programs to help with mental health and burnout
  • Increasing compensation or bonuses
  • Having managers meet more frequently with employees about engagement levels and ways to improve them

While these methods may be sufficient for the majority of workplaces, they are not silver bullets. Even higher compensation may not be enough to prevent turnover if other problems exist. That’s why employers should consider surveying employees about their individual opinions. Doing so can help identify unforeseen opportunities and potentially give employers ideas for improving retention without breaking the bank.

Reach out to Libertate Insurance Services, LLC for additional retention strategies.

This HR Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. © 2021 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Week in Review

We hope you had time this week to review some great posts by Paul Hughes and James Buscarini. 

On Tuesday, James shared with us some great tips on how smaller employers can attract and retain talent when competing with larger firms.  Check out his post on 6 Benefits to Attract and Retain Small Business Employees.    

On Thursday, Paul reminded us of the ongoing trends which are playing out in the realm of cyber Insurance.  According to content sourced from AM Best, we are witnessing an increase in both frequency of events as well as average cost per event in the cyber space.  This trend will, no doubt, bring about not only marked increases in cyber insurance premiums, but more rigorous requirements in cyber security by carriers willing to continue offering products in this space.  For full details, check out his post Annual Growth of Cyber Claims is Double Growth of Cyber Premiums.  

On this day, June 11th in 1776 the Continental Congress created a committee to draft a Declaration of Independence with Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston as members.  Thomas Jefferson primarily penned the original draft which was dived into five sections, including an introduction, a preamble, a body (divided into two sections) and a conclusion.  While the body of the document outlined a list of grievances against the British crown, the preamble includes its most famous passage: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

The Continental Congress reconvened on July 1.  The process of consideration and revision of Jefferson’s declaration continued on July 3 and into the late morning of July 4, during which Congress deleted and revised some one-fifth of its text. The delegates made no changes to that key preamble, however, and the basic document remained Jefferson’s words. Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence later on the Fourth of July (though most historians now accept that the document was not signed until August 2).

What would Thomas Jefferson think of our cyber insurance woes of today?

Happy Friday everyone!! 

The history of Memorial Day

Another dawn rises to find it is Friday and the weekend calls.  In honor of the Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to share the history of this commemorative celebration from history.com. 

The original post can be found by clicking here

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2021 will occur on Monday, May 31. 

Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season.

Early Observances of Memorial Day

The Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865, claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history and required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries.

By the late 1860s, Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.

It is unclear where exactly this tradition originated; numerous different communities may have independently initiated the memorial gatherings. And some records show that one of the earliest Memorial Day commemorations was organized by a group of formerly enslaved people in Charleston, South Carolina less than a month after the Confederacy surrendered in 1865. Nevertheless, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. https://e4a31b8e175db654932bfe3647c497f8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html Waterloo—which first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866—was chosen because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

Decoration Day

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.

The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Civil War soldiers buried there.

Many Northern states held similar commemorative events and reprised the tradition in subsequent years; by 1890 each one had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Southern states, on the other hand, continued to honor the dead on separate days until after World War I.

History of Memorial Day

Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars, including World War IIThe Vietnam WarThe Korean War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date General Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. The change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.

Memorial Day Traditions

Cities and towns across the United States host Memorial Day parades each year, often incorporating military personnel and members of veterans’ organizations. Some of the largest parades take place in ChicagoNew York and Washington, D.C.

Americans also observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. Some people wear a red poppy in remembrance of those fallen in war—a tradition that began with a World War I poem. On a less somber note, many people take weekend trips or throw parties and barbecues on the holiday, perhaps because Memorial Day weekend—the long weekend comprising the Saturday and Sunday before Memorial Day and Memorial Day itself—unofficially marks the beginning of summer.

Citation Information

Article Title

Memorial Day

Author

History.com Editors

Website Name

HISTORY

URL

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/memorial-day-history

Access Date

May 28, 2021

Publisher

A&E Television Networks

Last Updated

May 24, 2021

Original Published Date

October 27, 2009

Benefits of Utilizing Post-Offer Medical Questionnaires in Your Hiring Practices

Prescient National produced this thought provoking look at how to effectively use Post-Offer Medical Questionnaires as a part of your hiring practices. The original post can be found by clicking here.

When companies think of managing their Workers’ Compensation costs, several key programs may come to mind. For example, Early Return to Work, Post-Accident Drug Testing, and establishing a network of medical providers have become second nature in the course of doing business.  While these post-claim activities will reduce costs after a claim has been filed, preventing a loss starts with strong hiring practices.

A comprehensive hiring program contains several standard components, such as pre-employment drug screening, criminal background checks, and reference checks. But perhaps none are more important than the Post-Offer Medical Questionnaire (POMQ). As health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and previous surgeries continue to contribute to Workers’ Compensation costs, employers who incorporate the POMQ can rest easy knowing they’ve taken every step necessary to ensure that employees can perform the essential functions of the job, without endangering themselves or others.

What is a POMQ and How Does it Mitigate Potential Injuries?

The POMQ is a document with questions about a prospective employee’s prior medical history.  The POMQ helps an employer understand if the individual will be able to complete the essential functions of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation. Its goal is to help match the candidate to the physical requirements of the job and prevent putting an employee in a job that could be unsafe for him or her, other employees, and the company. It’s good stewardship. 

Let’s use an example to illustrate:  An employer in the home healthcare industry employs nurses who travel from one home to another to provide care. The company conducts pre-employment drug screening, motor vehicle record checks, as well as criminal background checks and reference checks, but it does not use a POMQ as part of its hiring practices.  One day, while making a sandwich for a client, an employee bends over to pick up a piece of silverware that has fallen off the counter. When he stands up, he feels pain in his lower back and decides to file a Workers’ Compensation claim. When the claim is received by the insurance carrier, it is determined that the employee has had two prior back surgeries and that picking up the piece of silverware has aggravated his pre-existing back condition. After a doctor’s assessment, the employee is scheduled for a third back surgery, which will cost approximately $100,000. It is estimated that this claim alone will increase the employer’s experience modification rate from a 1.00 to a 1.50, which will cost the firm $500,000 in additional Workers’ Compensation premiums over the next three years. The employer was shocked to learn of the employee’s prior health condition and is frustrated that the employee cannot return to a “light duty” job, because the employee has been written completely out of work.  Additionally, the employer is worried that the employee was placed in a position that required lifting and walking assistance for an elderly client, and wonder about future lawsuits from “negligent hiring” practices.

In the example above, the employer could benefit greatly from the effective use of a POMQ.  Uncovering the prospective employee’s prior back surgeries would have allowed the employer to make a well-informed hiring decision, which would protect both the employee and its client population from injuries. For the POMQ to be “effective”, an employer must follow the rules of its use.

How to Use the POMQ

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are allowed to conduct medical inquiries of prospective employees as long as certain rules are followed. First, the document can only be used after a job offer has been made (i.e., “post-offer”), but before the employee is placed into the job. This means, for example, an employer cannot ask an applicant to complete a POMQ while filling out an application. Just as with background checks and drug tests, POMQs can also be part of the contingent post-offer process, but only if all new employees in the same job category are required to complete a POMQ.  All information on the POMQ is protected health information and must be handled responsibly (typically by HR), kept confidential, and secured separately. 

An applicant must be provided with a copy of the written job description that outlines the physical requirements of the job. The questions on the POMQ must be “job-related and consistent with business necessity.” This means that the job must contain physical exertion that has been documented and is essential. It also means that employers cannot inquire about any family medical history. The job description in our home healthcare scenario, for example, may require employees in the position to be able to lift 50 lbs. The POMQ will include a question related to the amount of weight an individual can comfortably lift unassisted. If the candidate is unable to meet this requirement, the employer will solicit a medical opinion and provide the doctor with a copy of the written job description. The candidate can meet with his or her own physician or with the company physician to determine if the job requirement can be met and what, if any, accommodations can be made to meet those requirements.  

Depending on the physician’s medical assessment, the employer (assisted by feedback from the candidate), must determine if the recommended “reasonable accommodation(s)” can be made to enable the candidate to meet the essential requirements of the job. This may involve modifying the job, if possible, or purchasing additional equipment to help with the task, depending on whether this is a reasonable expectation for the business to undertake. If no reasonable accommodation is available, an employer can withdraw the offer. 

POMQ Red Flags

There are certain red flags to look for in a POMQ. Ensure that every question on the POMQ is answered. Often, we see a candidate forget to complete a question or perhaps even refuse to answer a question. All questions should be addressed to avoid potential issues down the road. Look carefully to see if the candidate documents something that doesn’t match with the requirements of the job to address any discrepancies or potential problems. Also, make sure the document is signed by the candidate. 

Note: If a candidate is untruthful on the POMQ and aggravates a pre-existing injury on the job, in many states the claim may be denied. In most cases, the injury/aggravation must be to the same body part where he or she suffered a prior injury which was not disclosed. Typically, it must also be established that the employer would not have hired the employee if he or she had indeed disclosed the prior injury and the injury would not have allowed him or her to safely perform the essential functions of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation.

At Prescient National, we believe that well-informed hiring decisions drive down costs and improve employers’ profitability. Used correctly, a POMQ is a good tool to optimize employee safety and to help mitigate potential claims. Hiring employees fit for duty is productive for the staff, insulates an employer from legal liability, and enhances safety throughout the organization.