The CEO’s Desk: The Foundation & Future of Integration

DMEC Staff@Work

The Foundation and Future of Integration

The History and Future of IntegrationBy Terri L. Rhodes, CCMP, CLMS, CPDM, MBA


By Marcia Carruthers, ARM, MBA, CPDM

Chairman of the Board, DMEC

Marcia Carruthers, who currently serves as DMEC Board Chairperson, is a co-founder of DMEC and was a pioneer in the development of integrated disability management (IDM), a concept that we now call integrated absence management (IAM). As a tribute to Marcia’s work in this crucial area of integration, and in recognition of her retirement as Board Chair at the end of the year, we thought it fitting to co-write this edition of The CEO’s Desk. We’ll provide you with a little history of integration and a view into the future.

The History

When we first looked at the IDM concept, our goal was to integrate everything touching disability — whether it was workers’ compensation (WC), short-term disability, employee assistance programs, safety, or employee health plans. Even in the early 90s when we started this work, we knew it was the right thing to do and not just “a flash in the pan”.

Virtually all these programs operated inside silos at the time. We were looking to knock down walls and bridge silos that housed very diverse program designs. At the time, employers were grappling with run-away WC costs, so injury prevention and return-to-work (RTW) programs were starting to pop up to protect employees and ensure operations were cost effective.

We knew these programs could also help reduce non-occupational disability costs and spare employees the tough challenges of disability and job loss. It took perseverance to sell this common-sense approach in a corporate world dominated by program silos and short-term thinking. However, over time we saw that whenever employers installed these integrated programs with adequate resources, they proved their worth.

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