New York’s New Virtual Hearings App Comes at Just The Right Time

Toni Sutton-Deangelico

New York, NY (WorkersCompensation.com) – Traveling to workers’ compensation hearings is often inconvenient, especially at this time of year. But in most parts of New York, participants don’t have to leave home.

“Having the option to attend workers’ compensation hearings remotely is particularly helpful for injured workers in the severe winter weather we’re experiencing now in many parts of the state,” said Clarissa M. Rodriquez, Chair of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board. Rodriguez’s comments to WorkersCompensation.com followed her announcement of a new tool to make it easier for employees involved in job-related injuries, attorneys, and others to attend worker’s compensation hearings that are conducted remotely.

The virtual hearings give injured workers a better way to move the claim process forward without having to travel to a hearing. Depending on the extent of their injuries, that can be extremely beneficial.

“The feedback on virtual hearings has been overwhelmingly positive,” Rodriguez said. “Users tell us they appreciate the convenience and ease of the system, which we’ve just made even better with the launch of the new mobile app.”

The new app can aid in further improving the user experience for all of those that attend these virtual hearings. The WCB VHC app does not require users to install any extra software to their mobile devices and is free in the iOS App Store. It uses a rather simple interface that will guide the user from the sign-on point, to the virtual waiting room, and then lastly to the video hearing once the Judge calls the case.

“This will help injured workers not just here in New York, but in other parts of the country as well,” Rodriguez said in her earlier statement. “With virtual hearings, this new app, and other recent initiatives, we’re also demonstrating that we’re a ‘new and improved’ Board – one that’s better for workers and better for business.”

The new app can also be of help for attorneys and licensed reps who frequently attend hearings, because it helps them save time with sign-on profile information, thus allowing them to be able to log in quicker. Also, users can remove a hearing from their schedule if they are no longer going to appear for a case, or if specific information was not entered correctly.

When waiting for their hearing to be called, users can still use other features and apps on their smartphones. Once it’s time to join the hearing, an automatic alert is sent directly to the phone — even if the user’s screen is off or they’re using another app.

In partnership with the Office of Information Technology Services, the New York State Worker’s Compensation Board created the virtual hearings to give all parties involved the option to use their smartphone, computer, or tablet to take part in it versus having to be physically present.

“The idea for virtual hearings came out of the 2013 Business Process Re-engineering project as a way to make participating in workers’ compensation hearings more convenient, particularly for injured workers who had to travel long distances for hearings that may only last 10 minutes,” said Melissa Steward, the Board’s director of Public Information in a statement to WorkersCompensation.com. “The virtual hearings app took approximately six months from conception to delivery.”

The Capital District It’s now available at all Board locations with the exception of Allegany and Newburgh. To download the app from the iOS App store, visit bit.ly/VHCApp.

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