WorkersCompensation.com | Dara Barney | February 6, 2018

Cambridge, MA – Dr. John Ruser entered a new era in January 2016, succeeding Dr. Richard Victor as the President and CEO of the Workers' Compensation Research Institute (WCRI). Dr. Victor held the position from WCRI's inception in 1983. As reported by WorkersCompensation.com last year, those were some big shoes to fill.

And those shoes were looking pretty spiffy after the 2017 “no-fluff” (as Dr. Ruser likes to describe it) WCRI conference, where former U.S. Representative Henry Waxman and Former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn covered the “Impact of the 2016 Election,” and a group of experts discussed alternatives to opioids in pain treatment, including medical marijuana.

Fast forward to 2018: It's time to talk turkey on what this 34th conference year is all about. WorkersCompensation.com caught up with Dr. Ruser to talk about just that.

The conference will take place March 22-23 at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in Boston, MA. Click here to view the agenda and register.

Register soon as the discounted, early-bird conference registration rate is only available until Feb. 9, and the special hotel room block rate is almost filled, according to WCRI Communications Director Andrew Kenneally.

“What's great about our conference is not only can we share research and knowledge from selected speakers, but also our own research in thematic connections to what is relevant to the workers' compensation industry,” Dr. Ruser said, emphasizing, “Changes in the nature of work, tech and automation, in efforts to work safer today.”

This year's theme, “Work and the Comp System: Evolution, Disruption, and the Future,” will begin with Dr. Erica L. Groshen, former head of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, who will speak about future labor trends and technology impacts.

Multiple WCRI experts will elaborate on statistics and recently released studies including in-depth knowledge behind value-based care and fee schedules.

A three-person panel will discuss opioids and prescriptions in the workplace, including speakers Dr. Bogdan Savych from WCRI, Kelly Nantel from the National Safety Council and Joan Vincenz from United Airlines.

Other experts will take the podium as well, from organizations including Sedgwick, University of Georgia, and Albertsons. Topics will include medical marijuana and the future of workers' compensation.

While things go pretty smoothly in the 34th year of conference planning, Dr. Ruser did point out that panels are a little more difficult to put together with all of the moving parts.

“I understand the importance in balancing a panel, getting different perspectives… which always takes a little more work,” Dr. Ruser said.

He also spoke about research as a main element, in comparison to other conferences.

“Apart from bringing in research from external sources on issues that are interesting and applicable to today's comp industry, what differentiates our conference from others is sharing our latest research findings in a way that is actionable for our audience,” he said.

“Our goal is to have you walk away having learned one or two things, at a minimum, you didn't already know that are valuable and can help you in your job.”

Year 35 is already occupying the brains behind conference planning, according to Dr. Ruser, and it involves a big location change. WCRI is headed to Phoenix, AZ for 2019, with the hopes its loyal attendee base will follow for hopefully some sunshine (and maybe a little golf on the side).

“Hopefully it will help our West Coast audience in joining our East Coast audience,” Dr. Ruser said.

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