Key RIMS Observations and Their Industry-Wide Implications

Guest post by Mitch Freeman, chief clinical officer, Mitchell International, Pharmacy Solutions.

Mitch Freeman
Mitch Freeman

Another gorgeous San Diego spring, no surprise there. Another enormous RIMs convention hall packed with Insurers, TPAs, and service providers, no surprise there either. San Diego is probably the most prime location for this venue of all. Convention hall on the waterfront, luxury accommodations, views of the harbor and Coronado, a teeming Gaslamp district keeping the attendees in tight proximity for after-conference networking with great food and libations, what could be better?

I’m a believer that the terms like “changing,” “different,” or even “same” should not imply the assumptive application of the terms “better” or “worse.” Plainly said, I observed a few notable differences or trends with this conference that I have not seen in the past and that has no bearing on the conference being better or worse than previous conferences.

WC service providers are less prominent in the overall convention

RIMS has always been a conference heavily attended by workers’ compensation insurers and TPAs “WC payers.” This is the conference where WC payers get the chance to meet with prospects or existing customers and win new business, or solidify existing relationships. WC service providers offering pharmacy benefits management (PBM), medical bill review, and ancillary services have historically exhibited in hope to network with the multitude of attending WC payers. This year, there were noticeably less prominent booths from WC service providers and some chose not to exhibit at all.


A recent shift has occurred from the “good ole days” of relationship-based selling to selling on value. Payers are more focused on what a service provider actually delivers than how much they wine and dine, all be to an extent. Furthermore, many contract decisions are now being driven by procurement departments within payers. That’s not to say that relationships within the industry are not still important, it just means that exhibiting is a less critical component of the recipe to winning or retaining business.

Property loss prevention is filling the void

I observed far more property loss prevention service providers than I have ever seen exhibiting at RIMS. There were several flood recovery providers present, ServPro and their competitors. I experienced first-hand virtual reality by donning “Oculus Rift” type goggles and toured a research facility where the company can essentially recreate your building and burn it in front of your face in 3-D. This type of marketing push outside of WC has not been seen before at RIMs.

What explains this shift?

I’m not an insurance underwriter or economist, but if I had to guess, I would say either profits in property insurance are on the rise, losses are very large and they need a solution, margins in property loss prevention are impressive, or RIMs has done a great job in diversifying its base of attendees. After all, the organization’s mission is, “To educate, engage and advocate for the global risk community.” RIMs is not, at its core, a WC insurance organization.

RIMS is still WC centric and core issues still matter

RIMs still provides a captive audience for WC service providers to launch innovative solutions to WC payers. Only so much of a payer’s calendar can be filled with potential clients that will hopefully choose them for WC insurance or convince a self-insured employer that their TPA solution is better than everyone else’s. When at RIMs you eventually do what all attendees do, you walk the floor. And when you walk the floor, you talk about issues critical to the industry like opioid abuse, compounded medications, mandatory formulary legislation, physician dispensing and true predictive modeling to impact future pharmacy cost.


Because pharmacy is the fastest growing component of workers’ compensation medical cost, these issues are driving the growth of pharmacy cost and the industry needs a real solution.

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