Technology is a wonderful thing — when it works. The problem is that there are so many elements that have to come together in a seamless way for everything to work right. Anything that is computer dependent (and what isn’t these days?) requires solid software coding. If even one bit of code is out of whack, the whole system can stall.

This has been on stark display in the herky-jerky rollout of the online exchanges in many states of the Affordable Care Act. It’s also been identified as a problem with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s online process for filing workers’ compensation claims and appeals.

The state completed the 45 million system overhaul early last month. It was supposed to streamline the filing and processing of claims, and the assignment of them to judges. But, according to those who have to use the system, there are so many glitches in it that the opposite has occurred.

Documents that are required to support claims reportedly don’t always upload the way they should. Sometimes they get lost altogether. Judge assignments, which used to take a week or less, haven’t happened for hundreds of cases that were filed since back in early September. The result is that hundreds of workers injured on the job are in limbo as they try to obtain the support they need to recover and get back in the saddle.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Labor and Industry says such glitches are to be expected when making the switch from paper filing to online. She says officials are confident that all will be fine when the glitches are worked out and that efforts in that regard are underway.   

At the state legislature, at least lawmaker is looking to assuage public concerns by asking the Auditor General’s Office to review the situation and pledging to hold hearings.

Source: Philly.com, “Computer woes plague Pa. worker comp system,” Angela Couloumbis, Oct. 22, 2013