Chances are your organization has a process for making significant purchases. But does that process include medical care for injured employees? Without any guidance, your injured employees are likely to seek care from their family doctors or other general practitioners in your healthcare network. However, these care providers may not be optimally qualified to treat occupational injuries.
By partnering with an appropriate medical provider, you can improve injured employees’ access to occupational healthcare and enhance the effectiveness of their treatments. You can also reduce your workers’ compensation costs by returning employees to productive work as soon as possible.
In recent years, the frequency of workers’ compensation claims has declined, yet workers’ compensation costs continue to climb. Medical, lost time and other claim costs continue to trend higher despite employer safety initiatives and persistent government efforts at policy reform.
Partnering with the right medical provider is one way to combat this trend. Studies show that workers who are able to return to work within three or four days have much less severe claims than those with longer absences. Providers who understand this important dynamic – and who make prompt recommendations for returning employees to work with any appropriate restrictions – are your primary allies in keeping claim costs down.
Your relationship with medical providers will help you control costs in several specific ways – some of which may not be obvious:
Employers want a provider who is well acquainted with occupational injuries. Without a pre-arranged plan, your employee may end up with a medical provider who does not give adequate consideration to a work-focused physical examination. Occupational medicine physicians tend to evaluate causation for the injury and develop a treatment plan to achieve maximum medical improvement in the shortest period of time.
Here are some criteria to consider in choosing a provider partner:
In some states, like Wisconsin, and under most circumstances in Minnesota, employers do not have the right to direct an injured worker where to seek care. In addition, by suggesting a physician for the injured worker to use, some plaintiff attorneys argue that it constitutes the employer and carrier’s one choice of independent medical exam (IME), and there are limited circumstances where that expert can be changed or additional evaluations can take place. For that reason, employers want to make sure they are clear that by using a certain physician or clinic, it is voluntary.
But you can make it easier for your employee to use that provider by:
Developing a relationship with the proper provider may seem daunting, but with a little forethought you will be able to build a successful relationship that will offer continued benefits.
For more information, contact us.
Risk management and human resources are traditionally two different job functions, and the people in these areas have rarely crossed paths — but that is changing.
Why are these people starting to work together more frequently?
In its 2014 Workplace Safety Index, Liberty Mutual estimated that employers pay just under $1 billion per week to injured employees and their medical care providers. Since even one serious workplace injury may impact the bottom line of a small or mid-size business, it is essential that employers have an effective injury and illness prevention program in place.
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