Electronic Adjudication Management System (EAMS) Insider

EAMS insider image

Issue 1 March 7, 2008

Welcome to EAMS Insider, the newsletter about the Electronic Adjudication Management System (EAMS).

As the Division of Workers’ Compensation prepares for EAMS, it has fielded many questions from injured workers, employers, attorneys, insurers, lien claimants, and others about the new system. This newsletter was created to answer those questions and share information. Every other month, EAMS Insider will provide information on new developments and what to expect during this transition. Bulletins will also be sent to subscribers for important announcements. (Sign up to be a subscriber at EAMS@dir.ca.gov.)

What you need to know

For a quick primer on EAMS, point your browser to www.dwc.ca.gov/eams. There, you will find a project overview, fact sheet, FAQs and a glossary. In the future, DWC will post updates, “how to” guides, an application demo and other useful tools.  

EAMS is being built in three stages: During the first stage, which began in late 2006, DWC signed a contract with Deloitte Consulting to design and build the system. Stage two, which began in November 2007 and is currently in progress, involves testing, evaluating and refining the system. DWC staff will be trained to use EAMS shortly before it goes live for DWC internal users in late summer 2008. In stage three, scheduled for fall 2008, DWC will begin phasing in external users. Eventually, EAMS access will be extended to all external users—the timetable for that is currently being determined.

This thoughtful phase-in process gives external users time to prepare and will give DWC time to manage EAMS resources, roll out log-ins in an organized manner, and ensure that existing cases proceed expeditiously.

What impact will the DWC internal go-live date have on external users? There will be new regulations covering court processes (the proposed regulations posted online for public comment in November 2007 are currently being redrafted), revised forms and form submission procedures. New regulations will include provisions for paper filing of new forms and for electronic filing as external users are fully phased into EAMS.

At DWC internal go-live, external participants will continue to file on paper using new forms that employ optical character recognition (OCR). The OCR forms will be available online on the EAMS Web page. Forms and documents will be scanned into EAMS by DWC employees at district offices. EAMS Insider will provide more information on this as it becomes available.       

DWC employees will get intensive training for EAMS this summer, but district offices will remain open. While staffing will be reduced at times, business will still be conducted. As soon as the training schedule has been finalized, each district office will set times for hearings and other matters. EAMS Insider will share these updates as well.

Keeping the public involved

On March 5, DWC hosted a public meeting at its Oakland headquarters to discuss the compatibility of EAMS with other software systems. This was the first in a series of meetings on this topic. More than 70 people attended, and their questions were transcribed by DWC court reporters. EAMS Insider will compile the questions and answers and add them to the EAMS FAQs in the near future.

The meeting focused on two topics: submitting forms in the EAMS environment—as discussed in “what you need to know”—and the effect of EAMS on the electronic data exchange system (EDEX).

While EDEX will not continue in its current format because case information will be stored in EAMS—not the WCAB online system that currently feeds EDEX—the DWC is committed to ensuring that an accountable and secure means of providing permissible information to requestors continues to be available when EAMS goes live. Several options for this were discussed and an advisory group is being formed on the topic.

Additionally, EAMS includes a general public search function, which allows users to search for case information by case number, injured worker name, date of birth, date of injury, address or employer name at no cost.

How you can help

District offices are currently preparing paper files for scanning into the new system. Each paper sheet in the file must be placed in the correct order to make documents easily accessible. DWC requests that if you ask to see the paper file you do not reorder the pages. Please return the file just as it was given to you.

Also, please do not use staples when submitting paper documents to DWC. Staples must be removed before scanning, and DWC wants to speed up the process, not slow it down.

DWC is also preparing its database of law firms and attorneys so they will be able to receive notices and other information through EAMS. Ensuring the division has the correct information in a standardized format will require assistance. Stay tuned for an announcement of what practitioners can do to help.

Change for the better

Ever gone through a change that might have been difficult at the time but appreciated later? Many library patrons initially missed card catalogs, for instance, but soon realized the benefits of improved searching on computers. Every other month, Insider will publish a personal story of “change for the better.” The first contributor is attorney Linda Atcherley.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
By Linda Atcherley

Old habits die hard, particularly for someone raised in countries where TV was either non-existent or limited to very few hours per day; where it was a pleasant surprise if water came out when you turned the tap; who learned to type on an 1929 Royal typewriter; to whom an IBM Selectric was a giant leap forward; and where the principal word processor in the first law firm I worked was an ancient Wang system with floppy discs large enough to serve as flying saucers in a bad science fiction movie.

On one of my forays onto the path less traveled I managed to collect an associate’s degree in computer science, which actually held me in good stead when I started working for Ludecke, Denton, McGrath & Cortes in my second year of law school. It was at that point that technology became a help rather than a burden. 

The first step was to get everyone their own computer and printer rather than fight for the one or two Wang stations. It took a while to train on the new word processing system, the downside being that I was the one they came to for help, rather than reading the manual. The next step was to tie the machines together, which worked fine. Then came the debacle of the case management system. No matter how fine a system or how efficient in theory, it can’t work if people simply revolt and revert to their old comfortable ways.

Years later, we tried again with a more intuitive case management system. And this time, from the top down (top being me) we made sure that the form letters were entered, and nothing was done on old files without the case information being entered. All new cases were entered as well, and since I did the intake, that was pretty much assured. After data entry was done, reports and letters became a breeze.

Cell phones allowed me to spend time out of my office taking care of my husband during his illness and still make those oh so necessary calls. A laptop computer allowed me to work even when I was forced away from the office.

Not that there weren’t hiccups. I found out how necessary back up was when typing a 20-page brief and the dog dislodged the power supply, thereby losing the brilliant thoughts put down without once hitting “save.” Similarly, when the office computers crashed, we lost years of data. We now have multiple back up systems.

The days of having rooms filled with books for research are gone. With Lexis and the click of a mouse, I can search to my heart’s delight. Searches are more productive and quicker than the hours once spent, albeit joyfully, with the books in the firm’s libraries.

Scanning has made life easier via attaching documents into the case management file. Once the documents are scanned in, you can review them without having to drag the 500-pound gorilla out of its file cabinet cage. Being able to remotely access my computer helped when I was in Sacramento during my year as president of the Applicants’ Attorneys Association. My phone became a PDA with all the contact and calendar information as well as the capability of sending and receiving e-mail. The only things that scare me now are the security risk if the phone is lost or stolen, someone hacking into the system, and my being too dependent on a system that is all too subject to whims and fancies of its own, wreaking havoc in my neatly ordered life. Otherwise, technology is well on its way to freeing up space and time. I am hoping one day to emulate the ad with the person with his laptop on the beach under a palm tree, relaxed and carefree.

Linda Atcherley Image

Linda Atcherley is a San Diego-based attorney specializing in workers compensation and personal injury. She was the president of the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association from 2006-7.

EAMS Insider is published every other month by the DWC Communications Office. It can also be found on the division’s Web site at www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/EAMS. Questions? Comments? Story ideas? Email pmelton@dir.ca.gov.

EAMS Public Information Officer Peter Melton