An Interview with the Work Comp Analysis Group’s Mark Walls
Mark Walls’ Work Comp Analysis Group might be the envy of traditional media. Having more than 18,000 members, Mark’s group is the largest Linked In workers’ compensation group out of the 200+ groups available.
His group is also likely the largest social media vehicle for the industry. It proves that social media, despite intention, is both an adjunct to traditional media and its competitor.
The group’s surprising success proves the advice of social media experts is true. That is, when people sincerely contribute to social media, as opposed as viewing it solely as a marketing tool, people will pay attention and participate. Mark, an unassuming and approachable Midwesterner, has influence that should not be underestimated. If he likes your discussion or tweet, others do take notice.
Last week, Mark announced his new post as a consultant for Marsh, Inc. In the interview below, Mark discusses his LinkedIn Group, new job and hopes for improving the 50+ workers’ compensation systems in the United States.
Annmarie: I often say that for most of us, workers ‘ compensation is like Denny’s. That is, we don’t plan a career in wc, we “end up” there. How did you “end up” in comp?
Mark: I graduated from Iowa State in 1988 with a degree in Speech Communications. At first, I planned on going to graduate school and possibly teaching. But I decided before enrolling that I had been a student long enough. After a couple entry-level jobs trying to find my place in the world, I saw an advertisement for a workers’ compensation claims trainee. No experience necessary, college degree and one to two years of general work experience. I was the college debate team so the negotiation element of claims handling was intriguing to me. So I applied…and the rest is history!
I wanted a place where we could learn
from the experiences of others in the industry
Annmarie: The Work Comp Analysis Group has more followers than workers’ comp media groups on LinkedIn. Tell me why you started the group and your reaction to its success?
Mark: I started the group in November 2008 to facilitate information sharing for the workers’ compensation industry. Although work comp is state specific, many of the issues we deal with are the same nationwide. I wanted a place where we could learn from the experiences of others in the industry.
The success of the group has been a big surprise. The group reached 2000 members after the first year. Then the growth really exploded. We are currently well over 18,000 members representing every segment of the workers’ comp industry. We have members from all 50 states, plus a large contingent from Australia and Canada.
Annmarie: When did you start your wc career? How would you say comp is different?
Mark: I started in January 1990 as an adjuster trainee with the May Company department stores. The role of the adjuster has really changed since that time. Back then, we did everything ourselves: scheduling doctor appointments, filing forms and even repricing bills to fee schedules. We did all that in-house. These days, the adjuster job is very different. Much of what we used to do is now done by outside companies.
Annmarie: Workers’ comp seems to be plagued with the same issues despite the endless public policy to get it under control. If you could wave a magic wand and solve one big comp problem, what would it be?
Mark: Workers’ compensation was designed to be a pact between injured workers and employers. Unfortunately, the cost driver in workers’ comp has always been third parties who are looking to make a profit on the system.
If I could change one thing, it would be that the best physicians who follow evidenced-based treatment guidelines would always treat injured workers. This would ensure the best possible medical outcomes for the workers, which would in turn reduce the costs for employers.
Annmarie: Your move to Marsh seems like a logical career move. What aspects of the job are you most looking forward to?
Mark: There are two things I’m most excited about. First, I now get to work more with employers and assist them in managing the total costs of their workers’ compensation programs. That’s always been my passion — going back to my days working for a self-insured, self-administered employer.
Second, I’m so excited about all the expert resources that I have available to me at Marsh. They have some of the top experts in the country on a variety of topics and I can access those resources to assist me.