Inside Workers’ Comp Blog

Applying Natural Design to IME and Other Risk-Management Strategies

Posted by Tom Johnson on September 14, 2017

My first exposure to a physician-influenced industry occurred when I was just a kid, at the IME company my father started in 1982. As an adult, I began working for my dad’s company and in working with the physicians, developed a passion to deliver optimal results for all parties.  

That pursuit to find the best treatment possible became personal in 2011, when my wife, a Rhodes Scholar and an amazing woman who had become a manufacturing company president by her early 30s, started developing debilitating symptoms including left-sided weakness, aphasia (inability to speak), pain after eating and cognitive decline. By then, I had been working with physicians for decades, but the health care industry was unable to diagnose my wife, and her condition continued to decline quickly. As a result, and out of other ideas, I turned to permaculture – an ethical design science based on observation of natural systems – in hopes of finding answers. 

After six years, our efforts finally led to a diagnosis – with a treatment that had the potential to significantly slow the progression of her disease.  By then, I had earned two certifications in permaculture and founded a permaculture design company. One of the many things I learned during this period was that permaculture can be applied to many aspects of life, including business. Through ethically-based design, and application of proven principals and techniques, we can build sustainable systems across many industries, including risk management.

So, what if anything, can workers’ compensation practitioners and the IME industry learn from this design science? How might it improve the IME industry – and risk management strategies in general? I recently discussed this topic in my recent podcast with the folks at the Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA). I hope it offers you some ideas as you pursue your own unique solutions.



Topics: IME


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