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Monday, July 26, 2010

Industrial Commission of Ohio Converts To Telephone Interpreting Services
Dialing In Will Save More than $80,000 per Year

COLUMBUS – Beginning today, the Industrial Commission of Ohio (IC) is implementing telephone interpreting services as part of a groundbreaking initiative that will save the agency tens of thousands of dollars annually.

Utilizing telephone interpreting services for most IC hearings will save the agency an estimated $81,667 per year. When an interpreter is requested, tele-interpreters will now be scheduled for all IC hearings, except in deaf services cases, depositions, and Commission level hearings.

The IC began a pilot tele-interpreting program one year ago. Such significant savings were realized that the decision was made to make the program permanent.

“There’s a major cost difference between the unit cost per minute of service for on-site versus telephone interpreting services,” says IC Executive Director Christa D. Deegan. “On-site interpreters cost an estimated $3.08 per minute, while the Language Line telephone interpreting service charges $1.49 per minute. On-site interpreters also charge for travel time to and from our offices across the state, and may charge if a hearing is cancelled or continued. Language Line does not charge these fees.”

Language Line is based out of California, but has offices nationwide and interpreters available 24/7. Benefits of telephone interpreting services include:
• Hearing cancellations due to bad weather will decrease since interpreters will no longer have to travel to other offices
• Hearing cancellations due to the interpreter not showing up will decrease
• Language Line is able to tell the caller right away if they don’t have an interpreter who speaks a specific language, so that other arrangements can be made. Previously, the IC would have to wait two to three days to find out if a specific on-site interpreter will be available.
• On-site interpreters are paid for their wait time, mileage and interpreting time. With Language Line, the cost is in real time. That means we pay only for the time that the interpreter is on the phone.

For each hearing, the hearing officer simply dials up Language Line and tells them what language is needed, then enters a password and claim number. Once the interpreter is on the line, the hearing begins. Billing occurs via the claim number and the number of minutes used.

“The use of tele-interpreters has been favorably received by the public, plus Language Line offers over 170 languages,” says Mrs. Deegan. “It’s an outstanding service for our customers at a substantial savings, without compromising the quality of our hearing services.”

The IC conducts hearings on disputed workers’ compensation claims, determines violations of specific safety requirements, and determines if an injured worker is permanently and temporarily disabled due to a work-related injury or occupational disease. We conduct over 180,000 hearings annually and interpreters service more than a thousand of these hearings each year. Three Governor-appointed Commissioners lead the agency -- headquartered in Columbus -- which has five regional and seven district offices throughout the state.

(Click on the link below to open the official news release PDF. Adobe Acrobat Reader is needed to view the file)

The Industrial Commission of Ohio Converts to Telephone Interpreting Services

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Industrial Commission of Ohio Launches Video Hearings
Innovative Initiative to Save More than $200,000 per Year

COLUMBUS – To increase efficiency while saving hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in Ohio workers’ compensation premiums, the Industrial Commission of Ohio (IC) has launched video hearings.

The first video hearings were conducted between the Portsmouth and Columbus IC offices on June 24, 2010. Now, video hearings are being held three days per week. By the end of July, the IC plans to have video equipment installed in its Cambridge, Logan and Cincinnati offices as well. Over the next ten (10) years, the use of video hearings in place of hearing officer travel will save the IC more than $2 million dollars in travel expenses.

Besides the substantial cost savings, there are many other benefits of video hearings:
• Reduce state pool car use, allowing the IC to move state cars to areas with a greater need;
• Allow hearings officers in one IC office to handle hearings for another office. This will spread the workload evenly and allow for quick docket reassignments due to hearing officer illnesses or emergencies;
• A docket could list hearings for one location per day, or hearings could be conducted for multiple locations in a workday;
• Productivity will increase because hearings may be held during the time that hearing officers would have spent traveling;
• Hearing cancellations due to bad weather will decrease since hearing officers will no longer have to travel to other offices.

“Once video hearings are in full swing at these five offices, we are going to look at adding video hearings to our Mansfield and Lima offices as well”, says IC Executive Director Christa D. Deegan.

A video hearing is exactly the same as a regular IC hearing with one exception: Instead of the hearing officer being in the room, there will be a video monitor. The hearing officer will still be able to see and hear everything that takes place in the hearing room.

“Video hearings in our Portsmouth office have been favorably received by the public, and our hearing officers are able to better utilize their work hours,” says Mrs. Deegan. “Our goal is to make the convenience of video hearings available to serve our customers across the state.”

The IC conducts hearings on disputed workers’ compensation claims, determines violations of specific safety requirements, and determines if an injured worker is permanently and temporarily disabled due to a work-related injury or occupational disease. We conduct over 180,000 hearings annually and most hearings take place within 45 days of the original claim appeal. Three Governor-appointed Commissioners lead the agency -- headquartered in Columbus -- which has five regional and seven district offices throughout the state.

(Click on the link below to open the official news release PDF. Adobe Acrobat Reader is needed to view the file)

The Industrial Commission of Ohio Launches Video Hearings