2017 DMEC Annual Conference


2017 DMEC Annual ConferenceThe growth and complexity of leave laws over the last 25 years has required absence management professionals to develop and implement strategic, compliant, and innovative programs that reduce costs and create a productive and sustainable workforce. And yet, there is still much more to be done as the industry continues to expand and experience rapid change.

Are you prepared for what’s ahead and how your organization will be required to adjust in the next 25 years? The 2017 DMEC Annual Conference, July 31-Aug. 3 at the Hilton Anaheim is your ticket to success.

During the conference, you’ll have the opportunity to join 700+ like-minded absence, disability, and return-to-work professionals and hear first-hand about successful, real-world approaches to complex program management and gain practical insight into emerging trends and regulatory changes affecting your programs.

Register today and get ready to be educated and energized as you prepare to drive success through your absence, disability, and return-to-work programs now — and for the future.

Download the full program or browse the online agenda below.

Monday | July 31

7:00 am-5:00 pm Registration Open
Preconference Workshop 1
9:00-9:15 am Welcome & Overview
9:15-10:15 am Supporting Employee Mental Health at Work
Engaging employees in their health is critically important to their well-being, productivity, and success at work. This session will review the continuum of mental wellness to mental illness and look at what employers can do to help promote mental health. We’ll also host an interactive discussion about specific workplace triggers that can have a negative impact on health, and share examples of effective prevention, early intervention programming, and components of wellness programs that promote mental well-being.

Sandra Turner, Director, EY Assist, EY

Workshop Leader
Jenny Haykin, MA, CRC, Integrated Leaves & Accommodations Program Manager, Puget Sound Energy
10:15-10:30 am Comfort Break
10:30-11:00 am Small Group Discussion
11:00-11:30 am An Employee’s Perspective
In 2007, after a lifetime of struggling with manic outbursts and depression, Ken Barlow was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder. Ken hid his diagnosis from everyone in his life, including his colleagues and his employer, fearing the negative impact his disorder would have on his very public life. Aware of the stigma of mental illness, Ken was terrified he would lose his job if his illness became known. As a meteorologist in the public eye, Ken always had perfect hair, perfect suits, and a perfect persona. What would his employer and his viewers think? After five long years, Ken was tired of hiding his illness, and he made the decision to tell his workplace and the world about his diagnosis. In this session, Ken will share his story and reflect on how he “came out” to his colleagues and viewers and the amazing support he has received from his peers, his employer, and those struggling with mental illness from around the world.

Ken Barlow, Chief Morning Meteorologist, KSTP-TV Minneapolis

Workshop Leader
Jenny Haykin, MA, CRC, Integrated Leaves & Accommodations Program Manager, Puget Sound Energy
11:30 am-12:30 pm Lunch on your Own
12:30-1:30 pm Enhancing Outcomes Through Early Detection & Education
Early signs of declining mental wellness can go unnoticed or unmentioned. Understanding how to detect early signs of mental illness and how to initiate discussions with employees can foster positive outcomes. This session will look at how and when to obtain documented restrictions, when a fitness for duty exam is warranted, and how to provide outreach and support to employees on leave. We’ll also discuss how to create a culture of support and open communication between employees, employers, and providers.

Donna Hardaker, Manager, Workplace Mental Health and Peer Engagement, Sutter Health
William Frystak, CPDM, CDMS, CLMS, Disability Case Manager, GlaxoSmithKline

Workshop Leader
Jenny Haykin, MA, CRC, Integrated Leaves & Accommodations Program Manager, Puget Sound Energy
1:30-2:00 pm Small Group Discussion
2:00-3:00 pm Encouraging and Promoting Return to Work
When an employee is returning to work following a leave for mental illness, both the employee and the employer may have concerns. This session will look at the different facets of returning an employee to work, how to address any concerns from the employee or the team, and how to utilize available resources (e.g., employee assistance programs, mental health job coaches) for the best outcome. Examples of job modifications and transitional duties for cognitive and behavioral restrictions will also be covered.

William Frystak, CPDM, CDMS, CLMS, Disability Case Manager, GlaxoSmithKline

Workshop Leader
Jenny Haykin, MA, CRC, Integrated Leaves & Accommodations Program Manager, Puget Sound Energy
3:00-3:30 pm Small Group Discussion
3:30-3:45 pm Wrap Up/Questions
Preconference Workshop 2
4:00-5:00 pm What Experts Know About IDAM and How They Apply It
Sharpen your skills for IDAM with seasoned experts, through real-life case studies in a practical, entertaining and interactive workshop. Even with an experienced team, too often the fundamentals and nuances of disability and absence management are glossed over, creating a disconnect amongst practitioners, managers, partners, and employees. We will explore key programs, practical concepts, accepted best practices and review case studies. You will also learn by doing through a hands-on group exercise demonstrating the advantages of program integration. Gain insights into designing and streamlining programs, along with an overview of legal and legislative compliance requirements within the areas of FMLA and ADAAA.
This workshop is perfect for those with moderate experience in the field or those who juggle many hats.

Adrienne Paler, MM, CPDM, SPHR, Director, Total Health & Productivity Management, Disability and Absence Management, Sutter Health
Loyd Hudson, CPDM, MS, SPHR, Manager, Integrated Disability, American Electric Power
Mike Moses, ARM, CPDM, Disability Case Manager, Kaiser Permanente

Gina Magee, MBA, President, CEO, Insurance Educational Association
6:00-8:00 pm Opening Welcome Reception
Celebrate DMEC’s 25th anniversary and kick-start your conference experience with a chance to connect with new and old friends and fellow attendees over refreshments at the 2017 DMEC opening welcome reception. Everyone is welcome to join the festivities for a special evening of great food and fun.Sponsored by
National Sponsors


Tuesday | August 1

7:00 am-5:00 pm Registration Open
7:00-8:00 am Rise & Shine Networking Breakfast with Exhibitors
General Sessions
8:00-8:30 am Welcome & Opening Remarks

Marcia Carruthers, MBA, CPDM, Chairman of the Board, DMEC
Terri Rhodes, MBA, CPDM, CCMP, Chief Executive Officer, DMEC
8:30-9:30 am Opening Keynote: The Integration of Movement: Not Throwing Away “Our Shot”
When the Disability Management Employer Coalition started 25 years ago, the founders didn’t realize they had launched an integration movement. What started as a California-based forum of employers focused on integrated disability programs shifted into a national community of absence professionals dedicated to the integration of leaves of absence, occupational and non-occupational disability, return to work, employee well-being, and much more. In 2017, we find the increasing complexities of paid and unpaid leave policies and healthcare once again altering the way we approach integration. Kick off the conference with a celebration of the past 25 years, a summary of our present state, and a prediction of how we can make the most of “our shot” at enhancing the future of integrated benefits.

Invited Speaker
Carol A. Harnett, MS, GBDS, President, Council for Disability Awareness
Sponsored by

9:30-10:00 am Coffee & Conversation Break with Exhibitors
10:00-11:00 am Evolving Leave Laws: Achieving a Critical Balance Between Employee Productivity and Retention
As the leave landscape continues to change, it can be difficult for employers to balance the need for productivity with employee retention and compliance. New paid sick and family leave laws have shifted the landscape of what has typically been “offered” in an employee benefit package to what is now “mandated”.
In this dynamic session, we will cover paid benefit laws recently passed by New York and San Francisco and how these and other state, city, and county laws may impact your internal programs. And you’ll hear from two employers who will showcase how they have implemented enhancements to their leave programs that go above and beyond required legislation to improve employee retention while reducing the impact of leaves on productivity.

Scott Daniels, JD, Sr. Director of Disability Benefits, Comcast
Chris Mankins, Benefits Strategy, Disability Plan Manager, American Airlines
Justin Hixson, Associate General Counsel, MetLife
Phil Bruen, Vice President Group Life and Disability Products, MetLife
11:00 am-12:00 pm Paid Parental Leave: A Marketplace Shift
The United States remains the only developed country without a paid leave policy, which has inspired individual companies to take the initiative to expand benefits for their employees who are becoming new parents. In the last few years, we have seen employers from many industries throughout the country come forward to provide and/or expand parental leave at their organizations. Several high-profile employers boosted the amount of paid time off and many granted the same benefits to both parents. This marketplace shift to more inclusive paid parental leave benefits continues to grow.
This session will examine a variety of paid parental leave policy business cases. The employer panel will present discussions and design considerations that have taken place within their companies around instituting a paid parental leave program. Come join us for a lively discussion about how these employers right-sized their policy, programs, and employee experience on this important topic.

Mary Chavez, Global Compliance & Employee Relations Manager, Levi Strauss & Co
Dianne Arpin, CPDM, Sr. Manager, Leave and Accommodation Programs, T-Mobile USA
Steve Bjerke, HR Director, Deloitte Services, LP

Panel Moderator
Anna Steffeney, CEO, LeaveLogic
12:00-1:30 pm Networking Luncheon with Exhibitors

Sponsored by


Concurrent Sessions
1:30-2:30 pm A1. Dance with Me: Integrating Employer Programs for Improved Outcomes
Beyond medical and disability coverage, many employers offer a range of other benefits including employee assistance and wellness programs, return-to-work case managers and stay-at-work or accommodation support, health coaching, chronic disease management, health advocacy, and second opinion support. Leveraging these varied programs and partnering with vendors to fully support employees who are experiencing an acute or chronic disabling condition can be challenging for both employees and employers. Learn what the most common and costly disabling conditions are and how vendor coordination can improve program engagement and results for all parties. Hear how Costco facilitates vendor collaboration, and how vendor partners work together to drive improved outcomes for all!

Hillary Dirks, Integrated Leave and Accommodation Specialist, Costco Wholesale
Sherri Burrell, Head of Operations, Briotix
Tori Weeks, Director, Workforce Solutions Group, Unum
B1. Intersection of ADAAA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation
Employment laws related to leave of absence and accommodation also apply to workers’ compensation claims, adding another layer of complexity to an already challenging situation. It is critical for workers’ compensation payers to understand the nuances of federal laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in addition to developing a plan to work closely with employers to protect them from compliance fines, penalties, and lawsuits. Kimberly George and Mark Walls will moderate this session as a panel of experts discuss some of the trends and challenges associated with leave of absence and accommodation laws and how they apply to workers’ compensation.

Bryon Bass, SVP, Disability and Absence Practice & Compliance, Sedgwick
Jeff Nowak, JD, Co-Chair, Labor and Employment Practice Group, Franczek Radelet, PC
Adrienne Paler, MM, CPDM, SPHR, Director, Total Health & Productivity Management, Disability and Absence Management, Sutter Health

Mark Walls, VP, Communications & Strategic Analysis, Safety National
Kimberly George, SVP, Senior Healthcare Advisor, Sedgwick
C1. Workplace Violence: Real Conversations about Unimaginable Events
As we’ve witnessed violent situations take place over the last several years at schools, business, and religious institutions around the world, many of you may be wondering if you’re prepared to deal with such an event. This interactive session will focus on potential warning signs or contributing factors that may result in workplace violence, and will challenge participants to proactively plan for how they would respond and recover should they find their organizations involved in a real-life situation.

John Reid, President, Incident Knowledge Resources (IKR) Consulting, Inc
D1. Improving Outcomes: Living Abled and Caring Counts
In this engaging session featuring “ted-style” talks and an interactive panel discussion, you will learn how to improve outcomes by using proactive strategies which engage, empower, and educate those who are injured or ill. You will gain insight from four national experts representing the areas of claims management (third-party administrator), risk management (large employer), psychology, and medicine. You will learn how a “caring counts” attitude and a “living abled” mindset can result in reduced personal and financial costs. And, you’ll take away specific action steps to enhance the success of your disability management programs.

Christopher Brigham, MD, MMS, President, Brigham and Associates
Les Kertay, PhD, Senior Medical Consultant, R3 Continuum
Christopher Mandel, BS, MA, CCSA, ARM, AIC, Director, Sedgwick Institute
Stephen Truono, ARM, CSP, Former Vice President, Global Risk Management & Insurance, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Worldwide
2:30-3:00 pm Dessert & Converation Break

Sponsored by

CareWorks Absence Management

3:00-4:00 pm A2. Returning to Productive Life: The Power of Vocational Rehabilitation
Exploration, understanding, collaboration, and commitment are essential elements for a successful vocational rehabilitation program — not only for returning an individual to a functional state but more importantly, in helping them lead a fulfilling personal and professional life. Hear the story of how automotive supplier, Valeo North America, is embracing a more holistic return-to-work strategy and giving employees an opportunity to fulfill their full potential. Learn how Valeo and Guardian Life leveraged the power of vocational rehabilitation services to improve outcomes on Valeo’s highest volume disability claim types. And hear how Valeo’s leadership made culture change a priority and committed the necessary time and resources for successful execution.

Tallas Cutshall, RN, BSN, Occupational Health Specialist, Valeo North America Inc
Steve Coffman, Group Practice Leader, Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
Cammie McAda, Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
Kathleen Hotchkiss-Wagner, Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, Guardian Life Insurance Company of America

Gene Lanzoni, AVP Marketing – Thought Leadership, Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
B2. Occupational and Non-Occupational Disability Accommodations: Avoid the Risks!
Disability accommodations present unique challenges and risks for employers. This session will identify current national and local requirements, competing interests, and other risk factors that impact organizations as they attempt to successfully respond to both occupational and non-occupational disability requests in the workplace. We’ll feature real-life scenarios, flow charts, and practical “do’s” and “don’ts” to help you identify the correct usage of confidential information, appropriate implementation of accommodations, and proper management of employee discipline and/or termination.

Robert Cutbirth, JD, Partner, Attorney at Law, Tucker Ellis LLP
Marc Leibowitz, JD, Partner, Attorney at Law, Laughlin, Falbo, Levy & Moresi LLP
C2. Practical Parental Leave Considerations in the Trump Era
What is the future of paid leave in the Trump era? On the campaign trail, President Trump did not offer a detailed position on federally-mandated paid leave for employees, though it is notable that he was the first Republican presidential nominee to propose paid maternity leave for employees. This session will focus on how the new administration views paid leave, particularly for new parents, and how employers should implement parental leave policies. We’ll cover updates on the new administration’s initiatives in the area of parental leave; whether employers can or should distinguish between moms and dads when enacting parental leave policies; and whether multi-state employers should adopt a “one-size-fits all” paid leave policy approach. We’ll also explore how employers are increasingly providing employees with “unlimited” PTO to use throughout the year and compliance implications and best practices around unlimited PTO policies.

Robyn Marino,JD, Senior Counsel, Cigna
Jeff Nowak, JD, Co-Chair, Labor and Employment Practice Group, Franczek Radelet, PC
D2. Mental Health in the Workplace: A Three-Way View
Approximately one in five adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year. Stigma and silence often persist in the workplace, and only one in three people with an illness ever seeks help. As an employer, you’re in a powerful position to make a difference. This panel presentation will address the specific challenges of mental illness in the workplace from the perspectives of a workplace mental health specialist, an employer, and an ADA attorney. Learn how you as an employer can increase awareness about mental health and encourage people to access education, support, and treatment through your company’s programs and benefits. Hear how a cutting-edge employer deals with mental health issues by supporting behavior change, workplace accommodations, co-worker morale, and more. Understand the employer’s legal options under the ADA such as obtaining sufficient medical information, considering various accommodations, and dealing with performance and conduct issues.

Lisa Dau, MA, CEAP, LP, Sr. MEAP Manager, Medtronic Employee Assistance Program (MEAP)
Marti Cardi, JD, Vice President, Product Compliance, Matrix Absence Management, Inc
Nancy Spangler, PhD, OTR/L, President, Spangler Associates Inc
4:15-5:15 pm A3. Informal Caregiving: A National Crisis for Employees and Employers
One in five employees are currently losing productivity due to informal caregiving responsibilities, leading to absenteeism, presenteeism, workplace interruptions, and employee replacement costs. The result is delays in meeting deadlines, increased project costs, and lost opportunities for employers. The employer impact can reach tens of millions of dollars annually. In addition to the physical, emotional, financial and personal health implications for employees, the lost wages and savings can cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars and prematurely end careers. We will demonstrate through a case study completed at Providence Health Services how care advocacy, care resources, and care planning can help alleviate these burdens for employees and help employers recover lost productivity costs and retain key employees.

Jason J. Denis, MS, SPHR, CRC, HR Director, Absence Management, Providence Health & Services
Denise Gott, MBA, CLTC, CEO, ACSIA Partners
B3. Sticky Situations: Building a Process to Handle Complex FMLA Requests
We’ve all experienced challenging FMLA requests — when an employee asks for time off to undergo cosmetic surgery or when you discover an employee is “living it up” while out on disability. If these types of sticky situations arise, do you know what to do? This session will go beyond simply identifying these types of common challenging FMLA claims to provide you with helpful guidance for evaluating complex requests as well as explaining the risk in granting FMLA leave when the leave is not truly FMLA qualifying.

Roberta SoloRio, BS, JD, Vice President, Chief Human Resource Officer, Midland Memorial Hospital
Abigail O’Connell, JD, Compliance Consultant and Counsel, Lincoln Financial Group
C3. On Track for 2018: ERISA Regulations for Disability Plan Administration
Disability plans, employers, third-party administrators, and consultants will need to review and take action on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) regulations which go into effect in 2018. The changes promote fairness for claimants and strengthen regulations regarding disability claims determinations and appeals so that they align with Affordable Care Act protections applicable to group health plans. ERISA changes include: conflict of interest criteria, expansion of benefit denial notice information, providing the right of a claimant to review and respond, effective consequences if the plan does not adhere to the claims processing rules or are retroactively rescinded, availability of translation services to non- English speaking claimants, and description of the contractual limitations period. All of these are applicable to disability plan administration. This session will review these changes and provide insight on how attendees can implement them.

Rene E. Thorne, Attorney at Law, Jackson Lewis PC
Megan Holstein, Esq, Vice President, Compliance, ReedGroup
D3. Increased Productivity through Integrated Absence Management of Behavioral Health Claims
Can leveraging employee assistance programs (EAPs), wellness programs, health plan design, leave of absence (LOA) management, employee education, and accommodation processes create a better approach to improving productivity and the well-being of employees with behavioral health conditions? Join us as we provide the successful methodology implemented by Intermountain Healthcare to positively impact the behavioral health of their workforce and significantly reduce time away from work. Key leaders from Intermountain Healthcare, Willis Towers Watson and The Hartford will describe specific tactics including: onsite EAP; wellness and LOA; key EAP program differentiators; insourced vs. third-party behavioral health management models; changes to health, pharmacy, and disability plan designs; enhanced ADA interactive process and accommodations; and improved tracking, benchmarking, and reporting of program utilization and duration trends.

Mark Tenney, Director of Benefits, Intermountain Healthcare
Brian Shaw, Consultant, Absence, Disability Management and Life, Willis Towers Watson

Kimberly Mashburn, Absence, Disability and Wellness Consultant, The Hartford


Wednesday | August 2

7:00 am-5:00 pm Registration Open
7:30-8:30 am Rise & Shine Networking Breakfast with Exhibitors

Sponsored by

Morneau Shepell

General Sessions
8:30-9:30 am
Marijuana in the Workplace: Don’t Get Caught Unprepared
Marijuana can cause altered senses, changes in mood, difficulty with problem solving, and impaired memory. Under federal law, marijuana is a Schedule 1 substance which allows employers to test for and terminate employees who test positive for marijuana use. However, with marijuana-friendly legislation, for both medicinal and recreational use, in place in 39 states, employers face a unique management challenge. What does legalized marijuana mean for employers in those states? How does it impact employee drug testing? Is it legal for employees to use marijuana at work? Should marijuana be considered a workplace accommodation to help an employee stay at work or return to work? During this session, you’ll get answers to these questions and more from employment-law experts. You’ll also gather helpful tips on what you need to know about marijuana and its impact on your employees, workplace policies, and HR compliance.

Robyn Marino, JD, Senior Counsel, Cigna
Eric Meyer, Partner, Dilworth Paxton
9:30-10:00 am Coffee & Conversation Break with Exhibitors

Sponsored by


10:00-11:00 am An Absence is an Absence: Integrated Case Management
As leave laws continue to evolve and employers offer enhanced time-off benefits, it has become increasingly complex for employers to understand how to effectively integrate their various absence programs. In this session, we’ll explore common challenges employers face including technology, communication, and case management. Two employers will provide insight on their experiences with these challenges and how integrated solutions were developed and implemented to help address and overcome absence management issues.

Nikki James, HR Direct Leave Operations Supervisor, Nike
Dave Knapp, Manager, Americas Benefit Operations, Nike
Deborah Olson, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Absence Management Program Manager, U.S. Roche & Genentech

Joanne Archer, National Account Executive, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
Troy Martin, MBA, Integrated Leave Team Manager I, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
Richard Dawson, JD, Client Service Manager, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
11:00 am-12:00 pm Health Status and Job Satisfaction: Do They Impact Veteran Retention?
Increased participation by veterans in the workplace is beneficial not only for the veterans themselves, but also for their employers. However, there are challenges and barriers to full participation. In order to develop effective solutions, empirical research needs to be conducted to fully understand the issues and their impact. This presentation will review data (e.g. health, job satisfaction, benefit utilization, etc.), collected as part of pilot study on veteran participation and engagement, to paint a picture of the larger challenges impacting veterans at work. We’ll look at recruitment and retention issues and best practices for enhancing veteran employment.

Wendy Coduti, PhD, CRC, Assistant Professor, The Pennsylvania State University
Kristin Tugman, PhD, CRC, LPC, Vice President, Health & Productivity Analytics and Consulting Practice, Prudential
12:00-1:30 pm Networking Luncheon with Exhibitors
Concurrent Sessions
1:30-2:30 pm A4. Risk Profiles: Reduce Durations, Streamline Administration, and Improve Employee Satisfaction
Are you looking to reduce risk and lower costs, while maintaining compliant programs and employee satisfaction? Learn how employers like American Electric Power have implemented progressive strategies that use employee and absence data to create risk profiles that proactively identify employees at high risk for extended absences and ADA accommodation requests that are likely to lead to extended absences. You’ll discover how aggressive management and intervention can reduce durations and improve employee health in your organization as well as streamline administration and eliminate hurdles and hassles for low-risk employees.

Loyd Hudson, CPDM, MS, SPHR, Manager, Integrated Disability, American Electric Power
Seth Turner, MBA, Vice President, Business Development, AbsenceSoft
B4. The Truth About Sourcing ADAAA
The expansion of the ADA in 2008 dramatically changed the absence management landscape by requiring employers to consider leave as a reasonable accommodation. The ADAAA, in conjunction with the FMLA as well as other applicable state and municipal leaves, has created a perplexing intersection of legislation that employers are challenged to comply with. Employers are seeking third party support with the administration of ADA policies to ensure compliance and to appropriately integrate their absence management programs. The supplier community now offers a number of leave administration options, which can add to the complexity that employers face. In this presentation, we differentiate between insourcing, outsourcing, or co-sourcing leave, and help employers decide which option might be best for them.

Sarah K Willey, JD, Member, Miller Johsnon
Connie Moore, Director, Absence & Productivity, Pacific Resources
Melanie Payton, CLMS, Senior Consultant, Absence and Disability Practice, Pacific Resources
C4. Strong FMLA/ADA Policies & Practices: Keys to Avoiding Liability
What’s the biggest trend in FMLA and ADA cases? It’s employer procedures and practices that have either saved or sunk cases. Many employers have seen their processes validated (i.e., call-in procedures) through court cases, but others have been admonished and lost their cases because of poor execution of otherwise valid policies. This session will review recent case law, interpreting both the FMLA and the ADA, and provide insights from these cases for how employers can improve their policies and processes to help avoid liability.

Jim Brown, JD, MBA, Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter, Chartered Life Underwriter SVP, ComPsych & FMLASource
Marjory Robertson, JD, AVP, Senior Counsel, Sun Life Financial
D4. Managing Workplace Opioid Use
Opioid medication prescribed to employees can affect performance in the workplace and its use has reached crisis levels. Not only are opioids impairing narcotics, but they are also a potential gateway to polypharmacy overuse and potentially to street-level heroin and fentanyl use. This session will provide you with guiding principles and relevant information to help your organization understand the scope of the opioid crisis. You’ll come away feeling empowered with tools to assess impairment and develop interventions in the workplace.

Michael Coupland, RPsych, Network Medical Director, IMCS Group Inc
2:30-3:00 pm Dessert & Converation Break
3:00-4:00 pm A5. Identifying and Managing Behavioral Health Symptoms in the Workplace: A Delicate Balance
Identifying and managing behavioral health issues can be a delicate balance for employers. In this session, you’ll learn how to recognize and handle behavioral health claims, including when it is appropriate to intervene, how to effectively leverage employee assistance programs, and when to initiate appropriate interventions and referrals with your disability vendors when you know a behavioral claim exists. You’ll also discover signs and symptoms related to a secondary diagnosis of stress and depression, how to facilitate a stay-at-work mentality, and tips for helping managers to destigmatize behavioral health conditions and open dialogues with employees to address issues and options.

Kelly Dieppa, ALHC, ACS, Vice President, Disability and Leave Operations, Broadspire Services
Candy Raphan, Assistant Vice President, Disability and Leave Operations, Broadspire Services
Marcos Iglesias, MD, MMM, FAAFP, FACOEM, Chief Medical Officer, Broadspire Services
B5. Jumping the Fence from FML to STD: Mitigation Strategies
Is family medical leave (FML) a “gateway absence” that leads to disability? If so, what are the warning signs? Based on the analysis of over 17,000 FML claims in 2015, 16% of intermittent leaves were followed by continuous leaves, and 13% of those ended as short-term disability (STD) claims. For those leaves where a diagnosis was provided, mental/behavioral conditions were the most likely to morph into STD claims (depression, anxiety, and stress), while musculoskeletal conditions accounted for most of the others. In this session, we will present detailed research findings and discuss proactive strategies to keep at-risk employees at work and help them avoid “jumping the fence” into STD.

Maria S. Henderson, Senior Human Capital Management Consultant, HCMS Group LLC
Rebecca Spreckelmeier, BA, MSc, Head, Absence Management, Aetna Life Insurance Company

Michael Lacroix, PhD, Associate Medical Director, Aetna Life Insurance Company
C5. Strategies for Stay At Work and Return To Work
During this session, we’ll examine the findings from the policy collaboration between the Office of Disability and Employment Policy (ODEP) and Mathematica Policy Research and make connections in relation to employers. We’ll pose questions regarding early intervention for workers who need help staying in the labor force, how to promote retention or reemployment after significant injury or illness, and behavioral interventions (“nudges”) designed to promote stay at work and return to work.

Jennifer Sheehy, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Disability Employement Policy, US Department of Labor
Brian Gifford, PhD, Director, Research and Management, Integrated Benefits Institute
Jennifer Christian, MD, MPH, FACOEM, President, Webility Corporation

Megan Holstein, Esq, Vice President of Compliance, ReedGroup
D5. Disability Benefits and Alzheimer’s Disease: Foresight is 20/20
Every 68 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). By 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to reach 7.1 million. Early onset Alzheimer’s, impacting about 5% of employees with AD, can even strike people in their early 30s and 40s. This trend means employers will see higher disability costs, lost productivity while employees — as patients or caregivers — struggle to manage treatment, finances, family demands, and the resulting stress and emotional challenges. In this session, we’ll examine the interaction between employment discrimination laws, federal and state family and medical leave benefits, and privately-sponsored disability plans as a means of assisting employees with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. We’ll also review the relatively uncharted employer best practices in providing elder care benefits for AD-diagnosed employees and their caregivers, and the exciting, emerging approach to leveraging digital technologies to prevent and/or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, preserving employee productivity and dignity.

Denise Kalos, MS, Chief Operating Officer, Affirmativ Health
Julius Schillinger, MS, PhD, Senior Director, Human Resources, Gateway Learning Group
4:15-5:15 pm A6. Day 1 Absence Notification: Disability Management Success through Early Intervention
Learn how large healthcare employer, Fraser Health, which employs over 25,000 workers, implemented early intervention techniques to create disability management success. Fraser Health recently underwent a review and improvement process of their disability management program to address a broad healthcare service mandate. You’ll hear about the past and present state of their successful efforts to implement a day 1 absence notification process and associated early intervention strategies in their disability management program. Productivity, durations, and cost savings data will also be shared.

Dave Keen, Executive Director Workplace Health & Provinical WH Call Centre, Fraser Health
Tyler Amell, PhD, MSc, BSc, Partner Morneau Shepell
B6. Taming the ‘Elephant’: Reducing Intermittent FMLA Using Medical Appropriateness Criteria
Since the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) became law in 1993, its adverse impact on productivity continues to be a major challenge facing employers. While attempts to address these challenges from an administrative perspective are on the rise, so too is FMLA utilization. By implementing an evidence-based approach, we’ll highlight how a medical review process applies a comprehensive assessment of every FMLA request with the goal of reducing medically unnecessary time away from work. We’ll discuss how an emphasis on “ability” keeps employees engaged in work activities when appropriate and focuses on the total health of employees. We’ll also discuss how, with an emphasis on “medical ability”, FMLA does not have to be the “elephant in the room” and, in fact, can even yield significant cost savings.

Carrie Davino-Ramaya, MD, Medical Director, Kaiser Permanente/Northwest Permanente Physicians and Surgeons
Krishnan Ramaya, PhD, Associate Professor Business Management, Pacific University
C6. Improving FMLA Compliance Using a Mobile Only Approach
Through careful planning and determination, Clark County implemented a mobile-only approach to absence management. With over 6,000 employees across 33 departments, this was no easy task. The mobile app allows employees, supervisors, managers, and the risk team to access real-time claim data in a centralized database. Employees are responsible for reporting their absence through the app, negating the need for telephonic support from the risk team. Employees are provided with automated, real-time eligibility determinations, and provider certifications, and preliminary designations are available to download or view immediately after claim creation. In this session, we’ll share real-life tips for implementing a mobile-only approach, and the impact this approach has had on Clark County’s absence management program.

Les Lee Shell, MPA, Director, Office of Risk Management, Clark County
Angie Brown, Director, Absence & Regulatory Compliance, ClaimVantage
D6. Arthritis: Getting Ahead of the Disability Curve
Arthritis is a low-prevalence, high-cost condition, which leads to absence, productivity losses, and invariably disability. Join us during this session as we discuss how absence management professionals can get ahead of this inevitable disability by partnering with their employee benefits colleagues to proactively help employees, particularly those with Rheumatoid Arthritis, approach low severity of disease or remission.

Brian Gifford, PhD, Director, Research and Measurement, Integrated Benefits Institute
7:00-10:00 pm Anaheim Live! at Angel Stadium

We’re in the homestretch, and there’s no better way to let loose and relax after several busy days of new ideas than with a night of food, fun, and baseball at Angel Stadium. Enjoy a DJ, ball game eats, beer and wine, and networking opportunities galore as we watch the Los Angeles Angels take on the Philadelphia Phillies. Come for an hour or stay the whole evening. Everyone’s invited to cheer for the home team in Anaheim!

  • Continuous transportation provided
  • Complimentary drink ticket(s) provided at the event
  • Great food, entertainment, networking, and fun
  • Limited guest tickets available onsite


Sponsored by
Evening Event Sponsors


Thursday | August 3

7:00 am-12:00 pm Registration Open
7:30-8:30 am Last Chance Networking Breakfast
General Sessions
8:30-9:30 am Accommodation… It’s Not Just Return to Work
Although market focus has been placed on what the ADA means for return to work, savvy employers are thinking more broadly. They are considering pre-employment and employee at-work requests, and what is legally required of them versus what constitutes a good faith effort. They are reaching beyond the disability and workers’ compensation claim process to include stakeholders in environmental health and safety, talent acquisition, and diversity. Join us for this session to hear about industry trends toward a more comprehensive model, and what an innovative employer is doing to ensure that all requests are addressed in a comprehensive manner and how communication, recordkeeping, and ultimately, compliance are being improved in a real-time manner across the organization.

Karen Lisi, Vice President, Benefits, Memorial Sloan Kettering
Margie Negron, Manager, FMLA/Disability, Memorial Sloan Kettering
Teri Weber, Partner, Spring Consulting Group LLC

Karen English, CPCU, ARM, Partner, Spring Consulting Group
9:30-9:45 am Coffee & Conversation Break with Exhibitors
9:45-10:45 am ADA Accommodations: From Therapy Dogs to Supervisor Restrictions – Oh My!
Psychological disabilities may be the most challenging to accommodate in the workplace. In this session, we’ll tackle some of the most difficult accommodation requests employers are getting. From therapy dogs to restrictions limiting whom someone can work with, we will use real-life case studies to show how you can expertly respond to, and manage, these requests for accommodation. Your disability compliance program will benefit from this refresher on your obligations and rights under the ADA, and you’ll also take away sample documents and letters you can use immediately!

Rachel Shaw,MBA, President, Shaw HR Consulting Inc
10:45-11:45 am What Do I Do Now? Ask the Accommodations Experts
Do you have a challenging accommodation issue in your organization that you’re struggling to manage? Join our panel of experts as they discuss and demonstrate the latest and greatest equipment, technology, methods, costs and tools for accommodation possibilities. Plus, plan to bring your most complex accommodation scenarios and questions, and get “real-world” answers from the experts during this interactive, can’t-miss session.

Anne Hirsch, MS, CPDM, Co-Director, Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
Chris Lowe, Certified Associate Ergonomist (CAE), Founder, Intellifactors, LLC
Ben Lumsden, MOT, OTR/L, Occupational Therapist, Excel Managed Care
Todd Meier, MS, CRC, CDMS, CEES, Vocational Case Manager, The Standard

Jeff Smith, CCM, CDMS, Disability and Productivity Consultant, The Standard
11:45 am-12:00 pm Closing Remarks and Grand Prize Drawing

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