By Liz Griggs, CEO, WorkWell Prevention & Care
Now that workers’ compensation programs have been in existence for decades, many of us already know the traditional story of how a claim occurs. First, a worker gets injured on the job. Next, they receive a diagnosis on the impacted area. Then, they file a claim. And next, the ongoing cycle begins with back-to-back treatments for recovering the injured worker — all the while recognizing, the longer that he/she stays off the job, the more likely they may never return to work.
Regrettably, this historical model of workers’ comp has continued to drive up the costs of managing claims and injuries for years throughout the industry. Even the latest data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that there were over one million reported cases in the private industry, state government, and local government sectors alone. And, with so many claims now hitting the system, workers’ compensation (and associated medical costs) is currently estimated to be a $70 billion plus/year industry.
Ironically, even with its ongoing high-costs in both medical and disability, and, problems with regulation issues, to date many solutions providers are still challenged with developing a comprehensive approach for addressing one of the leading issues in the industry — the fact that workers’ comp is currently designed for utilization after the fact. This means that issues are only addressed after accidents have occurred, after claims have been filed and after meds and other treatments for recovery now have to be administered.
On the brighter side, however, with there being so many inefficiencies in the system, even more solutions providers are starting to rise up to create a new era in workers’ compensation by deploying innovative practices and new technologies that will help prevent the claim from occurring in the first place. What’s just as interesting is the fact that this “new era” is partially being driven by the industry consolidation trend. Consolidation activities are actually causing more providers to shift from only executing a “single-service-offering” play (like only providing imaging services or only delivering physical therapy solutions), to now offering a full-suite of comprehensive solutions that better meet a wide array of marketplace demands. In fact, given all of the mergers and acquisitions in the work comp industry, organizations are now better equipped at rolling out robust programs that will help companies provide an even safer and healthier workplace for years to come.
With this in mind, below are some of the latest prevention and wellness initiatives for organizations to consider.
- Worksite Evaluations: Involves physical therapists on the front end (not just after an injury occurs), to work with employees, supervisors and management to understand workflow and all job task requirements. As result, therapists are able to recommend optimum positions, ergonomic strategies and physical movements required at work stations to minimize musculoskeletal impact on the employee.
- On-the-Job Fitness Solutions: Engages employees in wellness tactics like stretching, core muscle strengthening, endurance and coordination exercises that are specifically customized to improve areas of the body that are most engaged in performing work-related tasks.
- Functional Job Analysis (FJA): Uses the process of evaluating and empirically measuring the critical functional demands of the job. This analysis also involves assessing the employee, the work and the worksite. An FJA can be extremely beneficial in accessing the capabilities of older employees and in helping supervisors with assigning and/or reassigning them to positions that best fit their current fitness level.
- Prompt Reporting: Trains and engages employees to report any health concerns as soon as they notice any discomfort. Once these early notifications are reported to supervisors, they are able to immediately address the concern and respond with appropriate evaluations, diagnosis and/or medical care – before the issue escalates.
- Early Intervention Screening (FCE): Allows prevention teams to screen employees and evaluate the worksite as a result of the employee’s concerns, supervisor requests, or first responder’s requests. The prevention team then coaches the employee regarding appropriate ways to perform job tasks, the correct movement patterns, posture changes, and strategies to reduce reported discomfort and improve safe job performance.
By launching these best practices and innovative ideas, solutions providers can start to create a paradigm shift that will help the entire industry to embrace the fact that Wellness and Prevention can truly equate to early intervention by mitigating injuries on the job. This new mindset will better ensure that improved outcomes and results can be enjoyed by everyone, from state regulators, to claim providers, to companies and their employees.
About Liz Griggs
Liz Griggs is the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NextImage Medical, now WorkWell Prevention & Care through the acquisition of WorkWell in 2014. Griggs oversees all aspects of the company’s leadership, strategic growth, and business development initiatives.
Griggs is a foremost thought leader in the workers’ compensation industry with over 23 years of experience. She launched the workers’ compensation managed care industry in 1993 as the co-founder of One Call Medical, OCCM. Her visionary thinking and innovative approach has influenced how the industry views managed care today. Griggs continues to innovate by refocusing managed care on cost containment through prevention and wellness.
Griggs is a Dean’s Scholar graduate from the University of Delaware and the Owner/President Management (OPM) Program at the Harvard Business School.
About WorkWell Prevention & Care
WorkWell Prevention & Care brings 25 years of excellence in soft tissue injury prevention and physical therapy treatment, as well as, next generation diagnostic imaging services, prevention and early intervention solutions to our clients. Our goal is to deliver cost effective, outcome focused solutions to our customers. WorkWell Prevention & Care provides an integrated suite of services and programs that set us apart in the industry. Our Prevention & Wellness and Diagnostic & Treatment programs offer a first in class approach that focuses on outcomes and return to work to reduce overall cost and time lost on the job.