Blogging mostly about mundane stuff like, immigration, Workers' Compensation and other immigrant related activities.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Google = Injured Worker + Insurance + Attorney + Voc Rehab Counselor

Lets try an experiment. Lets use the Google Search box provided below. Now lets type in our name or the company that we work for and see what comes up.

Do you or your company have a web presence? The questioned is can you be Googled? If you can, then give yourself a well deserved ego boost and then consider that you are an injured worker, an insurance company representative or perhaps an attorney, but you don't know any names of counselors or schools and will just use a generic keyword, such as: "vocational counselor", "vocational rehabilitation" or "vocational school". These keyword searches will reveal very limited and useful links for industry. I should mention and send props out to Allied who not only comes on the keyword searches of "vocational counselor and "vocational rehabilitation" but also comes up as a "Sponsored Link" which ensures that they are the first link on the search results page.

Now you may be asking yourself, Ok, but what does this all mean? It means that the traditional manner in which vocational counselors and schools have relied upon to receive their referrals no longer apply. SB899 has for the most part dismantled and deregulated our industry. Our industry is now faced with utlizing the same mechanisms that other industries use to target and reach potential customers. These mechanisms have always been there and they include media such as print ads in directories, periodicals and trade publications, but increasingly the directory of choice for consumers is the internet. If you don't believe me just take a look at the market value Google has created. Googles major source of revenue comes from "targeted ad searches". How much has Google built from targeted ad searches, well last week Google stock was at $463, this only amounts to a $140 Billion Dollar market valuation.

But, let's get back to Workers's Compensation which has always been comprised of Insurance Companies who in conjuntion Applicant Attorneys have chosen a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, who has worked with and evaluated an injured workers prospects for Return-to-Work. The Vocational Counselor would generally conduct an evaluation, occasionally refer the injured worker for vocational testing and assessment. Once evaluated, tested and assessed the injured worker would be referred and placed at a vocational school which provided any manner and type of training. The Vocational Counselor would implement a Vocational Rehalitation Plan, monitor to ensure all provisions were met and close out the file.

As of January 2004, SB899 repealed mandatory Vocational Rehabilitation and replaced it with the Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit (SJDB) what we commonly refer to as the "voucher". The new legislation has in effect removed the vocational counselor as a mandatory component for injured workers looking who are displaced from their jobs and will need to acquire additional training in order to facilitate their return to the open labor market.

Prior to SB899 referrals were made based on formal ties and longstanding relationships and alliances. The legislative changes will require that injured workers, insurance companies and attorneys look towards internet to find the limited amount of vendors that will remain in our industry. Our business depends on someone being able to find us at that precise moment that they need us. The internet resolves this problem because the searcher can simply type a keyword into a search engine and instantly locate a vendor or service provider within her area and engage in a transaction.

Our industry has been slow to adopt technology or create an internet presence, mostly because we never needed it, since we relied on our contacts to refer clients to us, but this is no longer the case. Our businesse climate has now changed and we must learn about the benefits of using the internet to establish our web presence and allow consumers to find us.

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