In Memory of Wesley Artz

06 August 2013 / California Workers Compensation, Medical Technology, RateFast, Uncategorized / Comments Off on In Memory of Wesley Artz


Wesley Artz


RateFast is proud to announce that its first PR-4 impairment rating report is dedicated on the 3.0 version to the memory of Wesley Artz (October 5, 1918 - December 4, 2002), who worked as a precision toolmaker for General Motors.

The life of the late Mr. Artz is a study in the ideals of accuracy and integrity in workmanship—values that are central to RateFast's mission of producing accurate workers' compensation impairment ratings.

Wesley Artz is the father of Dr. Jerry Artz, who is a nuclear physicist, a university professor, a ranked tennis player in the Northern division of the USTA (United States Tennis Association), and the programmer responsible for RateFast's ability to take measurement's of a patient's spine, and use the information to generate a precision California workers' compensation impairment rating.

Dr. Artz's father, Wesley Artz, was born to a farm family of 17 children in Ohio. "My grandfather didn't really see any need for education beyond the 8th grade," Dr. Artz says. Wesley Artz dropped out of school, but eventually he returned after he convinced his father that a high school education was worth having.

"My dad went to General Motors, and he really established himself as a tool maker," Dr. Artz says. Wesley Artz was uncommonly skilled at his work, which he performed so carefully that General Motors would bring him all of the jobs that required exact measurements. Mr. Artz was the go-to man for projects that required accuracy to "a tenth of a thousandth of an inch," Dr. Artz recalls. Needless to say, such exactitude is hard won, especially in the days before computers.

Wesley Artz imparted his personal philosophy that a job is not worth doing unless it is done right upon the young Dr. Jerry Artz, who belongs to the first generation of college students in his family. "If my grandfather didn't think that it was important to go to high school, then you can imagine what he thought about college."

Dr. Artz obtained his B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Cincinnati, and earned his M.S. from Stanford University in California. After briefly teaching physics at a community college in Washington, he was inspired to pursue his doctoral degree in physics, rather than electrical engineering. He enjoys how physics allows one to delve into pure science and get away from electrical engineering's insistent mantra to "apply, apply, apply." After procuring his Ph.D. in nuclear physics from Florida State University, he did post-doctoral work at the University of Minnesota, and then Notre Dame. Eventually, Dr. Artz returned to Minnesota, and took a tenured teaching position at Hamline University.

At Hamline, a young man named John Alchemy took Artz's physics class as a Biology major. Years later, John Alchemy became a medical doctor and an impairment rating expert. Dr. Alchemy’s knowledge of the California Workers' Compensation system inspired him to co-create RateFast, the world’s first cloud based comprehensive software impairment reporting platform for the industry’s health professionals.

Alchemy recalls, “Jerry is one of those rare mentors who teaches content with precision and passion. He gives 200% to his teaching, and is always tireless and patient. He can teach any subject really, it wouldn’t matter. You have no choice but to get excited because he channels so much energy. He is incredibly generous with his most precious resource… time. He does whatever it takes to do the job, a principle underpinning the RateFast design.”

Remembering his former teacher's penchant for logical challenges and appreciation for precision, Dr. Alchemy called up Dr. Artz in a successful attempt to recruit him for the project of programming software that generates accurate impairment ratings. Alchemy remembers, “I was in a really tough design spot and got Jerry on the phone. I explained to him this incredible challenge and opportunity to put together a program that would create impairment values (AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment i.e. Whole Person Impairments, WPI) for spine injuries. No one had ever done it, or even attempted to do it to my knowledge. I explained the work would be meticulous, frustrating, lonely, and a Pandora type box of nightmare logic algorithms. The up-side was that this project had the potential to touch the lives of thousands of people in a positive way, and improve a failing system. Basically it was an insane proposal. Jerry was probably the only guy on the planet—other than myself—who was crazy enough to actually try it… and he did it. Anyone else would have buckled under the scope of this project, but not Jerry. Watching him write a logic matrix is like watching a master painter work a canvas. Turns out he thrives on this stuff. At 71 years old, this guy just doesn’t run out of energy.”

There is a clear harmony of values to be found in the triangulation of Dr. Artz's work as a physicist and programmer, the life of Wesley Artz, and the RateFast mission. The California workers' compensation system is currently framed within the ambiguous and convoluted rules of the AMA Guides, and plagued with inaccurate conclusions. RateFast generates reports that are so consistently accurate that they will eventually set the industry standard for impairment rating accuracy. "That's part of the goal," Dr. Artz says.

At present, standardized cloud based impairment rating is a young science, but when measurements determine the quality of life for people living with injuries, and the spiraling costs of workers’ compensation insurance premiums for employers, they should be accurate within a tenth of a thousandth of an inch. RateFast intends to bring about that accuracy, not only by bringing a nuclear physicist into the arena, but also by infusing Mr. Wesley Artz's DNA and spirit of precision into a process that is thirsty for greater meticulousness. Look out California Workers’ Compensation, because Mr. Wesley Artz’s is still bringing his “A Game” change to the world.


Wesley Artz (left) and Jerry Artz (right) fishing


Back to top