Josh Schuette – Director of National Workers Compensation Sales and Account Management,
Josh has used his expertise in the field to help improve workers’ compensation services. He is also responsible for training and instructing therapists at individual outpatient clinics in workers’ compensation documentation and specific programs. In this interview, Josh talks to me about his journey and his vision for the industry’s future.
An Unexpected Start In Workers’ Compensation
After completing physical therapy school, Josh was looking for jobs in Orlando when he found one at a chronic pain clinic. He started his journey in outpatient orthopedics and realized that its focus was primarily workers’ compensation.
‘After high school, I went from, a coaching background to working with kids with disabilities and I am still very passionate about that. I do a running group nationally called Ainsley’s Angels where we push kids with disabilities in racing wheelchairs to be included in all races.’
Although he did not know much about insurance, he found himself learning how to relate to and work with workers’ compensation patients and injured workers. 17 years later, Josh has greatly evolved in the field and is now a recognized leader in workers’ compensation.
One aspect that keeps Josh motivated in this domain is his passion for witnessing a success story. Being part of a journey where an injured worker comes to getting them into rehabilitation and treatment, and finally seeing them make a recovery is significant.
‘From being unsure whether the patient is going to live to seeing that same patient return to work, in under a year, is amazing. Seeing people make comebacks is what keeps me going and passionate.’
Current Business Structure And Organization
At Brooks Rehabilitation, Josh is responsible for three core people in his specific department. However, he states that the entire employee team of 2500 people at the company is part of the workers’ compensation department. Everyone, whether they are a therapist or CNA or at the front desk, is responsible for helping the injured worker have a better day. The clientele comprises largely of insurance companies but in some cases, includes self-insureds as well.
As Director of National Worker’s Compensation sales and account management, Josh’s primary responsibility is to meet with the insurance companies, meet with the providers, and try to figure out better ways to help out injured workers from around the country.
Talking about how he and his firm are different from their competition, Josh states that he is still involved in working one-on-one with an injured worker because he knows that things can go sideways at any time.
‘We are dealing with people with comorbidities and not widgets, and I know that.’
Instead of a cookie-cutter approach, Josh believes in understanding each worker’s injury, social background, requirements, etc. and creating a customized outcome for them rather than just pushing a previously successful technique.
Further, Brooks Rehabilitation is always on the lookout for new technologies and innovations. He references the company’s Cyberdyne technology, the robotics technology for working with patients with spinal cord injuries to help them walk again, as a reference. The team went to Japan, trained in Japan and Germany to learn that technology, embraced it and are currently the only rehab system in the country to include Cyberdyne in its system of care.
Standout Moments As A Business Leader
A personal achievement Josh is proud of is getting his MBA degree even though he did not have a business background. Another moment is being able to work with Paradigm. Josh and his colleague, Bob McIver, helped create two value-based contracts with Paradigm over the past year that is focused on helping spinal cord injury patients walk again.
Talking about the organization’s achievements, Josh states that the team realized a few years ago that their approach was not organized. To actively improve the company, thought groups were brought in and in time the business better identified its patient population and improved the services it offered.
‘I am proud of how we have built this business and learned to get the best possible care to injured workers.’
Another source of pride is being able to help patients from around the country. Josh has personally worked with people from Alaska and the firm has worked with a couple from Iowa and a couple from Kansas over the past year.
‘Ultimately, it is all about the individual. Finding out what makes them tick, their backgrounds, and trying to meet them where they are. To see what we can do to get the best out of that person because it is not just the physical, but also the mental.’
Overcoming Challenges In Business
Communication is the biggest challenge according to Josh. In a supply chain approach, the more links there are in a chain, the more communication gets distorted. Rather than listening to what is happening with an injured worker from five different parties, Josh believes it is important to hear it from the worker himself. In the industry, this is currently a huge challenge that needs to be overcome.
Business Plans For The Future
Josh’s focus is to continue on his path and work hard while keeping the focus on the company’s main priority which is the injured worker. He states that many healthcare companies fall prey to the need for growth or expansion but often lose the number one focus which is the injured worker.
‘For me, if I am not taking care of the number one thing, which is to take care of that injured worker, everything is going to crumble.’
Talking about marketing methods, Josh reveals he is old-school and prefers personal connections over social media. Another method that works well is participating in conferences. He also has a podcast with his colleague, Kyle Walker.
Top Philosophies And Core Values In Business
A core value Josh lives by every day is to treat everybody as an individual. There will be challenging times and difficult days but it is important to turn the page and work with every individual as they go through the different workers’ compensation stages.
Another core value is passion. In this field, if one is not passionate, they should maybe go into a different line of work.
‘We are in the business of people helping people, people caring for people. If you are not passionate about it, you should do something else.’
Advice For Newcomers
The first piece of advice is never to forget about the individual. Another is to know that everyone will only get what they put in so if someone puts in their best, that’s what they will get back.
‘If you give your all, you will get something back and you will be a better person for it, so be patient.’
Finally, this industry is not for the lazy or the faint-hearted. It is an all-day hustle, which means no one stops moving through the day. It is not a typical 9-to-5 job.
2 Key Learnings Shared
- Be Open To Learning
Be open to learning new things and seeing somebody else’s perspective. A great advantage of big conferences such as WCI is that it brings together people from all different backgrounds – attorneys, both plaintiff and defense, third party administrators, DME companies, and translation companies. The biggest thing is learning where everybody is coming from and what they are doing to help the situation and the individual injured worker.
- Extend Each Other Grace
A lot of organizations are short-staffed, and people are being asked to do more things which can get rough out there. Misunderstandings can occur and it is important to realize that it’s not because of a bad person but just a bad moment.
Vision For The Future Of The Industry
Josh is hopeful of a less adversarial approach and better communication within the industry moving forward. If communication can improve, people can better realize that it is not about screwing over someone but trying to get the best possible care for the injured worker. Another vision is to adopt technology in better and more meaningful ways to help the worker.
‘Those are the two biggest things for me, people communicating for better outcomes and technology that helps things that we never thought about today.’
For companies looking to stay successful in this field, Josh advises having people involved that have experience working one-on-one with injured workers and also have experience working with numerous parties involved in the treatment of injured workers. Understanding that perspective and what everybody is trying to do in the overall scheme of things is what would be very helpful.
Another piece of advice would be to get people with strengths that complement another’s weaknesses.
Leadership Lessons Learned In Life
Josh is a big believer in leading by example. Only tell others to do something that as a leader, one would be willing to do as well. Another is to have a team that complements each other.
As a leader, Josh also finds value in continuing to learn from other people and taking their advice.
‘Lead by example, stay hungry, and be passionate, those are my rules to live by as far as leadership goes.’