Hello Michael Stack here with Amaxx. Today I want to talk about one of the easiest ways to make an immediate impact in your worker’s compensation costs, as well as increase the level of care that you’re demonstrating to your injured employees and your workforce as a whole; and that’s using injury triage.
What Is Injury Triage?
We’re going to define what injury triage is, talk about some of the benefits, as well as some of the risks and things to look out for. So what is injury triage? It’s certainly grown in popularity over the past 10-12 years. It’s defined as a formal process to assess the medical needs of an injured employee at the time of injury. This is done either telephonically or through an on-site clinic.
Here’s how this looks in practice. Let’s say I work for you. You’re my supervisor and I work on your loading dock. One day, I’m picking up one of the boxes and ow, I hurt my back. I go to you as my supervisor to report the injury and together we’re going to call the injury triage hotline and you’re going to immediately connect me to a trained nurse. If you’re using a best in class provider, they’ll have a clinical algorithm to consistently and accurately assess my injury, right at the time of injury, right as it happens.
Injury Triage Benefits
Backs Up Supervisor
Let’s talk about what some of the benefits are of that scenario. The first benefit is it backs up the supervisors. In that scenario if I’m reporting my injury to you, unless you’re a trained medical professional you’re going to have a tough time assessing my injury. Typically, you’re going to either over-react or under-react and you’re going to say, “Oh Mike, rub some dirt on it. I thought you were a pretty tough guy go back to work” or you’re going to overreact and you’ll say, “oh my gosh, you have to go to the emergency room right away.”
Neither one of those is going to lead to the best outcome. If you send me back to work, my back injury which may have been a simple strain and can now turn into something more significant and more costly. If you send me to the ER it could be a $2,000 bill for what could have been a $200 bill at the walk-in clinic. It backs up the supervisor and takes that onus off of what to do next.
Immediately Connect With Medical Professional
The second thing is that it connects me immediately to a medical professional and I’m going to get immediate medical advice. At the time of injury: I’m feeling some pain. I’m feeling nervous, I’m feeling anxious, I’m feeling a bit scared of what’s going to happen next. If I talk immediately to a medical professional, my level of anxiety is going to come down much lower because there is a level of trust with the medical community, the trained medical community of what is going to happen to me next. You’re immediately connecting me to that medical professional.
Direct To The Right Level Of Care
Third thing, along those same lines, that medical nurse, the trained medical provider, is going to direct me to the right level of care. We talked about either going back to work or going to the ER or somewhere in between. It could be recommended that I have in-home treatment which is going to save claims from even happening. It could be recommended that I go to the clinic, it could be recommended that I go to the ER depending on my injury and the assessment of the trained nurse of what to do next.
Facilitate Claim Reporting
The final point is certainly not an insignificant. It’s going to help facilitate claim reporting. Tell me your lag time number and I’ll tell you how well you’re doing in your work comp management program. How quickly you’re reporting claims, what percentage of your claims are being reported immediately should be a leading indicator for your program. That’s a number that you should know. If you’re working with the best in class injury triage provider, that number is going to improve because you’re going to make that a part of your company culture to be reporting those claims immediately.
Risks & Selecting Your Triage Provider
Injury Assessment Algorithm & Software
The final thing to cover then is some of the risks and things to look out for when you’re selecting a triage provider. The first one is certainly the algorithm and the software that that organization is using. Now, as we talked about earlier, there are inherent risks in assessing an injury whether that’s at the supervisor level or whether that’s at the triage level discussing the injury with the nurse. Particularly, telephonically that nurse is not there to take the blood pressure or to check vital signs. That algorithm becomes exceedingly important to be able to accurately and consistently assess injuries.
There are certainly inherent risks in under-assessing as well as over-assessing the injury as we discussed earlier. As well as with the software, that’s something to certainly ask some questions about, particularly with things like privacy and security of information. Be sure to ask questions about the software, the algorithm as well as privacy issues.
Conflicts Of Interest
The final point then is conflicts of interest. Just like anything, you’re going to want to look at the revenue stream and where the money is derived. If the revenue is derived from either the claims or from the network provider or if the triage provider is only billing the claim files. There may be a financial incentive that creates a significant conflict of interest that may not lead to the best outcome for you or your work comp management program.
Now remember in worker’s compensation and worker’s compensation management your success will be defined by you integrity, so be great.
Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%. He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: email@example.com.
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