Controlling Work Comp Transportation Expense Is More Than Ordering an Uber

Controlling Work Comp Transportation Expense Is More Than Ordering an UberMonitoring and managing workers’ comp transportation expenses can drastically improve the claim expense cost, especially on larger work comp claims. Unfortunately, claims adjusters and/or nurse case managers often overlook this important expense, thinking to save money by not using a transportation service.

 

Attempting to cut costs in this category is not an option, and here’s why.

 

 

Controlling Work Comp Transportation Expense Is More Than Ordering an Uber

 

Controlling transportation expense is more than ordering an Uber for the employee to get to the doctor or writing the employee a check for personal automobile mileage.

 

When the employee is physically unable to travel unassisted or does not have access to transportation and will have multiple visits to the treating physician or other medical providers, a transportation company specializing in workers’ compensation claims is needed. Services of a transportation company are arranged by the adjuster or nurse case manager, not by the employee.   The selection of a transportation company is based on the company’s ability to provide safe and reliable transport service whenever needed.

 

A full service transportation company saves the claims office a significant amount of time, since the adjuster or the nurse case manager can spend many calls and emails coordinating employee transportation needs. Often employees reschedule doctor appointments for their own convenience and the transportation must be scheduled all over again. Or worse, employees “forget” their medical appointment and are not ready to go when the transportation arrives, knowing the doctor will not see them if they are very late arriving.

 

Experienced work comp adjusters know the more subjective the employee’s injuries are the higher probability they will miss their medical appointments, cancel medical appointments or reschedule them without advising the adjuster.

 

 

The professional transportation company will:

 

  1. Schedule the transportation with the employee as soon as they are notified of the medical appointment.
  2. Contact the employee the day before the medical appointment to confirm the pick-up time and the return home time.
  3. Contact the employee the day of the appointment before they leave their business location to confirm the appointment is still the same.
  4. Notify the claims office if there are any changes in the scheduled medical appointment, or if the medical appointment is missed by the employee.
  5. Provide the adjuster or nurse case manager with a documented trip history as to their departure time from their business location, the time they picked up the employee, the time the employee arrived at the medical location, and the time they delivered the employee back to the employee’s residence.

 

While automobiles are the most common mode of transportation for injured employees, other modes of transportation are occasionally needed for the severely injured. The full service transportation company specializing in workers’ compensation claims is able to provide the work comp adjuster or the nurse case manager with other alternatives including ambulances, wheelchairs and stretchers.

 

 

Employee Has No Incentive To Locate Best Price for Transportation

 

In addition to saving the claims office considerable amounts of time, the professional transportation company also saves the claims office money. The employee has no incentive to locate the best price for transportation, as the employee is not paying for it. Also, the employee is not concerned about the cost for missed appointments. By the claims office controlling the transportation needs of the employee, the transportation cost is properly managed.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, Principal, 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 & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

9 Questions to Ask Injured Worker’s Treating Physician

Leaving no stone unturned is critical to managing your workers’ compensation costs. With the number of steps from injury to resolution; the number or people involved from physicians to adjusters; and the number of possible outcomes from a band-aid to a large insurance settlement you cannot leave any single step to memory.

 

 

Create System to Ask All the Right Questions

 

Certain questions must be asked, forms must be filled out, and precautions should be taken. Your injury management system should ensure all the questions one should ask the physician on the telephone to be sure every “i” is dotted and ever “t” is crossed.

 

Formalize your questions in a checklist so these questions are asked uniformly; it’s not something that should be done on an ad hoc basis.

 

9 Questions to Ask Injured Worker’s Treating Physician

 

  1. Introduce yourself and give the injured employee’s name, mentioning the employee has authorized you to speak with the doctor
  2. Get and give all contact information.
  3. Offer to email authorization so the doctor may discuss the employee’s condition.
  4. Ask for diagnosis and whether it is work related.
  5. Ask how the employee is responding to treatment.
  6. Ask if prescribed medications could interfere with the employee’s job.
  7. Does the physician recommend any significant limitations?
  8. Can the employee perform a transitional duty job? If yes, obtain the employee’s work restrictions.
  9. Is there anything else that I should know, that would help our employee recover more quickly?

 

This open-ended question gives the doctor an opportunity to provide information that is additional and helpful to the employer or the employee.

 

Keeping up with all these details assists your company in getting your employee healthy and back to work.

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, Principal, 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 & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Address 3 Areas of Concern For Chiropractic Care in Work Comp

Chiropractic care has been a mainstay in workers’ compensation systems for some time.  While there are many benefits to this form of care, members of the claims management team should use caution when managing claims involving a chiropractor.

 

 

Are Chiropractors Real Doctors?

 

Chiropractic care is an alternative form of mainstream medicine used to treat a variety of disorders impacting the musculoskeletal system.  By using the spinal cord as a reference point, chiropractors use various manipulations in order to treat not only neck and back pain, but also other conditions that have their origins in the central nervous system.

 

The requirements to become a chiropractor vary in every state.  In some instances, a chiropractor receives more medical based training than the average medical doctor (MD).  The main difference in training is chiropractors concentrate their focus of study in physiology and body mechanics.

 

 

 

Areas of Concern for the Work Comp Professional

 

Chiropractors should be treated with the same professionalism as any other health care professional.  Like anyone else who provides medical care and treatment, a majority of chiropractors are professionals in every sense of the word.

 

Claims handlers do need to educate themselves on how chiropractors operate.  Unlike most medical doctors who work in or associate with larger groups, many chiropractors operate in a solo practitioner setting.  They also offer additional services such as massage and aromatherapy.  When managing claims involving chiropractors, claims professional should employ the following techniques to ensure the injured worker is receiving quality medical care and treatment:

 

  • Review of Billing Practices: Every claims professional should review all medical bills submitted for payment with integrity.  When an employee sustains a work injury and is seen and examined by a chiropractor, it is important to review it under the same standards one would from a medical doctor specializing in orthopedic and neurological care.  This will include identifying billing codes that are consistent with an initial examination.

 

  • History of Chiropractic Care: It is important for every member of the claims management team to obtain a complete set of medical records for a claimant.  This can be difficult when a person has received previous chiropractic care.  Any billing statement from an injured worker’s initial visit should indicate if they are an existing patient, have received chiropractic care in the past or are new to this form of treatment.

 

  • Reviewing Treatment History: While chiropractors use medical terminology in their records, it does differ from what you would typically find in reports generated from a traditional medical doctor.  It is important to note the frequency of care and how long it is recommended.  One should also take note of “flare-ups” listed in medical records and determine if they coincide with the employee’s recollection.  It is also important to scrutinize any medical care with applicable state medical treatment parameters.

 

 

Managing Claim Costs

 

Members of the claims management team will need to take additional steps to address out of control treatment with a chiropractor.  There are steps that can be taken to address this form of medical mismanagement.

 

  • Independent Medical Examination: The IME is the easiest, but sometimes most expensive cost containment method in claims involving chiropractic care.  Given the restrictions most states place on such exams, it is a decision that cannot be taken lightly.

 

  • Record-Only Medical Review: This is also known as a “paper review.”  From a cost perspective, this is an excellent method to obtain an expert opinion regarding the reasonableness and necessity of care.  They can also address whether the chiropractic care is consistent with medical treatment parameters.  A paper review is also less expensive when compared to a full-blown IME.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Members of the claims management team and other interested stakeholders need to understand the benefits and dangers of chiropractic care.  Part of this includes methods and techniques to analyze the care received and making sure it is consistent with workers’ compensation guidelines.  It should also be care to treat the effects of a work injury and make the employee whole.

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, 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 & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

8 Ways to Prepare For The Next Healthcare Reform

The great healthcare debate in Washington, D.C., left many in our industry wondering what the ultimate impact would be on the workers’ comp system.  While the proposed republican bill has failed to pass, employers and payers can still take steps to ensure they are in the best position for the status quo – or whatever future legislation may be proposed.

 

Here are some areas to consider.

 

Employee Safety & Health

 

  1. Wellness programs. If your company does not have one, this is a good time to consider the idea. Healthier employees are less likely to sustain workplace injuries or illnesses and more likely to recover quickly when they do. If your company has a program, look at its effectiveness. How do you measure its success? What is the participation rate? What kind of feedback have you received about it? Even if your wellness program is doing well, it may be time to try some new features or change it up a bit to encourage increased buy-in. If possible, connect wellness initiatives with nurse case management.

 

  1. Focus on older workers. If you’ve thought about taking steps to increase safety and health among aging workers, now is a good time to do so. Improve the lighting, implement efforts to ensure hallways are free of obstacles, and look into assistive devices to reduce bodily strain.

 

 

Fraud Concerns

 

  1. Step up investigations. You want to make sure you’re not hit with claims that are not work related; so when an injury does occur, make sure you don’t skip steps to uncover what really happened. Talk to witnesses, review any video footage, look at the timeline of events.

 

  1. Scrutinize bills. To the extent possible, make sure your providers, attorneys, and others are not trying to cushion their potential income losses at your expense. If anything on a bill raises a question — ask about it. Any reputable vendor should be able to easily explain changes in billing.

 

 

Claims Management Processes

 

  1. Use workflow automation to better manage your loss trends and reduce claims leakage. You might consider data warehousing to integrate legacy systems and multiple data sources to identify fraud and cost shifting, and to better manage performance.

 

  1. Intervene early. Don’t let potentially high risk claims deteriorate. Work with your insurer or third party administrator to identify claims that could go south. Leverage clinical and specialty resources early in the claim cycle.

 

  1. Use quality providers. Make sure you’re working with high quality partners, to help expedite claims and get your injured employees back to function and work. Medical providers should be outcomes-based with good track records of delivering the best care. They should also have a comprehensive understanding of occupational health. If not, look for new providers or educate those in your network.

 

  1. Check the paperwork. Make sure your policies and procedures relating to employee health and safety are up to date and easily available to employees. If you have a drug-free workplace policy, for example, make sure it includes any recent related changes in your jurisdiction. Any relevant portion of the employee manual should also be reviewed and changed where needed.

 

 

Conclusion

 

At the moment it seems healthcare is going to remain unchanged.  However, whether or not there are future changes proposed, it behooves stakeholders to be prepared.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, 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 & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

4 Areas To Manage Workers’ Comp Medical Costs

Medical treatment has comprised the bulk of workers’ comp claim costs in recent years, and the trend seems to have no end in sight. Where indemnity used to be the main expense, medical now represents 60% or more.

 

There are a variety of tools to help manage medical costs; medical bill review, utilization review, provider networks, nurse case management, nurse triage, Medicare Set-asides, and the list goes on. While any of these tools can be effective, they might actually be costing you more than they are saving. You need to look at your return on investment and make sure the medical management services you are using are truly helping your organization save money on medical.

 

 

  1. The Doctors: Costs vs. Outcomes

 

Low-cost medical networks were all the rage in the workers’ comp system for a while. But in recent years, there’s been more and more evidence to show that going cheap on medical providers may come back to bite you.

 

The latest indication comes from a study in which a 63-year-old woman with low back pain was sent for MRIs at 10 facilities in the New York area to see what, if any differences there would be. Sure enough, not a single diagnostic finding out of 49 distinct findings reported was identified by all 10. The woman’s actual diagnosis was stenosis; she was given physical therapy and education and is said to be doing just fine. But had one of the 10 interpretations of her MRI been used, she might have been sent for unnecessary surgery and/or drugs — big expenses with a poor outcome.

 

The adage ‘you get what you pay for’ is as true of medical providers as it is for anything. Try to partner with area providers that A: understand the world of workers’ comp — and if there are none, start educating area physicians; and B: have low litigation rates and high return-to-work outcomes.

 

Likewise for other medical providers, such as physical therapists. Look at the number of treatments, their average cost, and the outcomes.

 

Once you’ve identified the best providers, partner with them and direct injured workers to them where possible. In states where the employer cannot direct care, you can still provide information that lets the injured worker know who the top providers are.

 

 

  1. Pharmacy Benefit Managers

 

Pharmacy benefit managers with good track records can be invaluable to a workers’ comp program. But again, you need to make sure you’re getting one that adds value to your company.

 

Where PBMs initially added value through lower prices, many have implemented clinical management programs to lower costs further and improve outcomes. It’s important to look at a PBM’s overall program to make sure you’re getting the best for your money.

 

Consider such things as pharmacy charges vs. pharmacy costs; the percentage reductions below the state’s fee schedule; the PBM penetration rate; cost per script; percentage of medications dispensed by pharmacies vs. physicians; and first fill rate.

 

 

  1. Involvement of Nurses

 

Nurses can be brought in to help with a claim — nurse case managers; or they can be the initial source to help determine medical treatment — nurse triage.

 

NCMs are the point person for the injured worker and medical providers. Those who do it in-office are telephonic case managers, whereas those who go out of the office are field case managers. Evaluating the effectiveness of NCMs is easiest with a large database, to compare things like the cost of claims and number of lost workdays with and without a NCM. Your insurer and/or third-party administrator may be able to help.

 

To find the value of nurse case triage, you can look at the number of calls divided by the number of claims actually reported for workers’ comp, to get the number of claims avoided by percentage.  It’s also important to look at the training and experience of the nurses involved. One thing to be aware of is how invested the triage nurse is involved in the claim. Triaging is at the initial stage of the claim, not manage the claim — which is the job of the NCM, if there is one.

 

 

  1. Bill Review

 

Medical Bill Review fees can be hidden and pricey, so it’s important to look for transparency from the claims administrator. There are many claim service providers now that have modified their BR fee structures so the costs are more obvious. Ideally you want a lower administrative cost for BR, combined with maximized savings.

 

You can find the net savings of your BR service by taking the gross savings (total charges minus total paid) and subtracting the BR service fees. Additional things you can measure to ensure you’re getting value are the percentage of net savings, the turnaround time, and the denied bill rate.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Price alone should not be the deciding factor for medical management tools; a holistic view of your services is best. However, you also want to make sure you aren’t shelling out more money than you are saving. Whether you are evaluating your current tools or looking for new ones, just make sure they lead to improved outcomes and lower costs, to get the best from your investment.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

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.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

You Win If Your IME Doctor Shows Up At The Comp Board

comp-board-imePicking the correct doctor for your Independent Medical Examination (IME) can determine whether you win or lose your workers’ compensation case.  This is based on a number of factors, which hinges on the ability of the examiner to prepare a persuasive report based on the facts provided to them.  Sadly, this is an area when claims management teams and other interested stakeholders defending workers’ compensation claims often cut corners.

 

Now is the time to change your thinking and be open to using the right medical examiner for the case. The IME is one of the few points where the outcome of the claim can be influenced, and you want to know that you have the right expert to WIN.

 

 

Preparing for the IME

 

In most jurisdictions, the employer and insurer get only one opportunity to have the employee seen and examined for purposes of the IME.  Due to the nature of the examination in the adversarial process, it is important to treat it with upmost importance.  A number of factors go in the examination, which often include:

 

  • The education and training of the expert. The practice of medicine is highly competitive.  Choosing a doctor with a reputable background is important.  It is also critical your expert has an updated Curriculum Vitae (CV) that includes information on their ongoing education training and reputation within the medical community.

 

  • Specialization is key. This is especially important in today’s cases where medicine is specialized and medical care and treatment is scrutinized by experienced compensation judges or members of the compensation board; and

 

  • Independence is essential. Your medical expert will be asked to give an opinion on issues regarding causation, the nature and extent of injuries, reasonableness and necessity of medical care and treatment, and need for future care.  The judge or hearing officer will view your expert as a more objective witness if he is truly independent and does not have any financial ties to the client/employer or vendor that is setting up the IME.

 

 

Show Up & WIN

 

In addition to the factors mentioned above, it is important to work with an independent medical examiner that adds value to the defense of the case.  This includes adding certain intangibles when the case boils down to a “battle of the experts.”

 

One such area an IME doctor adds value is the time they spend on a case.  IME physicians are paid a flat rate for their services.  A low fee paid to the provider means he will be unlikely to spend significant time reviewing the medical records and history, seeing and examining the employee, preparing their report, or being available to show up at a hearing to defend the case.

 

On the other hand, high quality IME service providers fairly compensate the right physicians to offer a meaningful opinion, and be available to show up at a hearing to defend their position. While this may increase the cost of the IME, the dividends can pay off significantly in future savings when settling cases.  Other benefits of working with service providers who provide a higher quality IME expert include:

 

  • A higher degree of accuracy and precision in the findings and opinions contained within the IME report;

 

  • Better familiarity with the file and its materials. This allows the doctor to develop their medical theory on direct examination and guard against losing credibility on cross examination; and

 

  • It avoids the wrongful perception the IME report is merely “bought and paid for” by the insurance carrier.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Workers’ compensation cases are often won or lost with an IME.  If service providers hinder the ability of their medical experts to do a complete job, the results may be disastrous to your file load.  When medical experts are fairly compensated for their time, they are able to reduce workers’ compensation costs and move your cases toward a reasonable settlement.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

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.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

 

©2016 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

 

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%.

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining

 

Can You Authorize Up To $6,000 For A Winning IME?

doctor-imeThe cost of litigation in workers’ compensation is a driving factor that can impact a claim.  Most claim management teams require defense attorneys to submit detailed litigation budgets and hold their counsel to it.  While budgets are unavoidable in today’s marketplace, flexibility can be given in certain situations when it comes to costs associated with an Independent Medical Examination (IME).

 

 

Why Are IMEs Important?

 

The IME can make or break your case.  It can determine the direction of your claim and is used to defend issues concerning causation, the reasonableness/necessity of medical care, treatment parameters or other medical related issues.

 

Failing to use the right IME service provider will impact your claims based on a number of important issues.  These include:

 

  • Available panel selection of medical experts;

 

  • Quality control issues; and

 

  • Customer service issues, including the timeliness of IME reports.

 

 

Developing Trust with an IME Service Provider

 

When dealing with these matters, it is important to evaluate an IME service provider on how they perform in the following areas:

 

  • Service support during the examination process. This includes turning around reports in a timely manner and superior customer service;

 

  • Their panel selection and variety of medical experts. This is important in many instances where an area of specialization is vital to defending a claim; and

 

  • Other intangibles. This includes “best in class” service, the ability of medical experts to clarify issues and add value during all aspects of the examination process.

 

Having confidence in your IME service provider is paramount.  The IME service provider can assist attorneys, members of the claim management team and other interested stakeholders when it comes to evaluating their case and selecting a medical expert.  This is especially important in high exposure cases.

 

 

High Exposure Cases Require Trust & Flexibility

 

An IME cost will range between $500 – $1,800 depending on the provider and the state. This can include a review of all medical records and other documents pertinent to the employee’s background.  In most instances, this includes a summary of the employee’s deposition that has a description of their everyday work activities and specifics concerning the mechanism of injury.

 

Some cases, however, are not average cases and require more than the average IME, with potentially more than one expert opinion.  It is these situations where flexibility and a trusted IME provider relationship is paramount.

 

 

Can You Authorize Up To $6,000 To Get This Done?

 

The timing and execution of an IME requires a medically sensitive determination, and the selection of the right physician expert to make this determination is critical.  The best IME vendor relationships will be trusted and authorized to spend additional funds when necessary to select the right expert from their physician panel at the right time in a high exposure case. This expertise and specialized knowledge makes the IME vendor an invaluable partner to the claims management team.

 

This can be the case when you are dealing with the following issues:

 

  • Cases that include claims for mental/mental or physical/mental injuries. In cases involving a mental component, IME’s will often include multiple medical experts and an array of tests and procedures;

 

  • Instances where the employee has suffered significant physical injuires to multiple body parts. In other matters, future surgical procedures that are complex in nature often drive the cost of an IME; and

 

  • The prior claims history of the employee is also important to consider. When dealing with “experienced claimants,” it may be imperative to select an IME doctor who is not hindered by a budget and can go the extra mile to drive the matter toward settlement.

 

 

 

Conclusions

 

Litigation budgets are an important component of workers’ compensation cost containment.  When it comes to an IME, it can be an invaluable asset to allow for flexibility when defending a high exposure claim.  Develop a trusted relationship and leverage the expertise of your IME vendor as an invaluable partner to your claims management team.

 

 

 

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.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

 

©2016 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Workers Comp Medical Decisions

***Please note, the resources mentioned in this video are recommended to be used as a resource for when further intervention by a trained medical professional is required***

Hello, Michael Stack here with Amaxx. This past weekend was the second Presidential debate between candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It was a 90-minute snapshot of information, with their policies, their views and unfortunately a lot of their personal indiscretions. It’s designed to give us information as the American public of who we want to decide individually who we want to be our next president.

 

There are individuals who have spent hours, weeks, months, years participating in the talk shows, reading the policies, learning every minute detail about their candidate in order to make their decision. There’s millions of Americans who don’t have the time or frankly the interest to study to that level of minute detail. They use the debates in order to make that decision, in order to get that information, to get that snapshot to make the extraordinarily important decision on Election Day for themselves.

 

It got me thinking of how this relates to Worker’s Compensation and the important decisions we make in a claims organization almost every day in regards to these medical decisions. There are doctors and people in the medical community who similarly will spend their entire career studying the biology to the minute detail in order to create determinations in regards to two specific points of injury duration and causation, of whether that injury is work related or not.

 

 

Work Comp Snapshot of Medical Information

 

What’s the snapshot? What’s that information that we can turn on for 90 minutes and hopefully get some information in order to help us make that decision? I’m going to give you two resources here in regards to injury duration and causation.

 

 

MD Guidelines / ODG Guidelines

 

Injury duration, the resource is MD Guidelines and ODG Guidelines. These are published by medical professionals and give you an idea of the expected duration of a particular injury, whether that’s 2 weeks, 5-10 weeks, 15+ weeks based on a various number of factors. You could look at a shoulder injury, a back injury, a wrist injury, a knee injury, whatever the case and get an idea of the expected duration of that injury. If it’s expected to be 5-10 weeks based on a certain number of factors for a shoulder injury and you’re getting a 9, 10, 11 weeks and that individual is not back to work, that’s cause to bring in some additional intervention strategies to get things going on the right track.

 

 

AMA Guide to Causation

 

Let’s talk about causation. I want to give you a resource here. The AMA Guide to Causation. In depth book. This is a book you can find on Amazon, will give you an understanding from the medical perspective and it’s really written and designed for the person that is not a medical expert but has some medical knowledge to understand the elements of causation.

 

Injury duration and causation, AMA Guide to Causation and the MDG and ODG Guidelines. Great resources in order to help you make that extraordinarily important decision.

 

Again, I’m Michael Stack with Amaxx, and remember, your success with Worker’s Compensation is defined by your 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: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

©2016 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

Know The Difference Between Sprain & Strain To Save Work Comp Dollars

sprainIn order to properly monitor and control workers compensation losses, it is necessary for the employer to have a working knowledge of traumatic injuries and occupational diseases.  For adjusters this knowledge is mandatory.

 

 

The Exposures:

 

The following sample questions demonstrate the need for medical fact information knowledge and understanding:

 

  • What are usual treatments for the injury or disease?
  • What are the normal recovery periods?
  • Will there be any residual disability?
  • What are the problems associated with improper treatment?
  • Did the mechanics of the loss or job exposures cause the injury claimed?
  • What underlying health conditions might be aggravated by this injury?
  • Is treatment in compliance with accepted medical practice?
  • Is there a prior record to demonstrate apportionment possibilities?
  • What apportionment ratios are possible?
  • What are indications that point to the need of an independent medical examination?
  • What questions and findings need to be presented to the examining medical practitioner?
  • Should the examination be done by a specialist, a general practitioner or physician’s assistant?
  • Are all facts of the occurrence and medical treatment available for presentation to the examining doctor?

 

 

Difference Between Sprains & Strains

 

The difference between sprains and strains is a classic example.  The terms are often used interchangeably, yet the actual injuries are quite different.  Their cause, severity, course of treatment, and residual possibilities vary greatly.

 

 

Sprains

 

Sprains are generally associated and limited to ligament stretching or tissue tearing.   Typically, they occur to knees, ankles, or wrists, and happen while walking, running, jumping, or falling.  The incident is usually abrupt or sudden and is prominent in sports or sports like activity.  Falling, while limbs are in out stretched position, or sliding, are ways sprains happen.

 

Symptoms are usually apparent almost immediately.   There is pain, swelling, bruising, loss of functional capacity, and weight bearing or applied pressure may be intolerable.  The patient may feel a pop or tearing sensation.  The symptoms can vary on intensity depending on the degree of severity.

 

Treatment generally consists of an x-ray or MRI, immobilization, pain medication, and applications of external heating or cooling devices, non-weight bearing, physio therapy, and possibly surgery. Use of crutches, slings, wheel chairs, walkers, and canes may also be necessary.

 

Recovery Disability can range from several days to twelve weeks without surgery. Hospitalization can range from several days to weeks depending on severity, and total disability can range from days to months.

 

 

Strains

 

Strains are caused by twisting, or pulling of the muscle or tendon.  They also occur from prolonged repetitive movement, and/or over use.

 

A strain is an acute situation brought about by trauma, blows to the body, improper lifting, and stressing.  The symptoms may be immediate or develop over a few days.  Strain symptoms are pain, localized swelling, cramps, muscle spasm, inflammation, loss of muscle function, general weakness of the muscles involved, and radiating symptoms following nerves.

 

Chronic strains develop over time as a result of repetitive motion or over use and symptom onset is delayed.  These cases may be accepted for other possible medical conditions.

 

The treatment and grades of strains are similar to strains, however full rupture of muscles often occurs and requires surgical repair.  Carpel Tunnel Syndrome is one of the chronic strain injuries and may need surgical intervention at the wrist level.

 

Recovery Disability parallels that of strains.

 

Learning and Reference Sources:

 

In addition to formal medical education courses, there are other places where medical knowledge can be obtained.  A few are:

  1. ACOEM and/or ODG Guidelines
  2. Local First aid and EMT classes
  3. Medical dictionaries
  4. Medical hand books designed for lay people and to be used in home or business
  5. Training sessions led by Medical Practitioners

 

Summary:

 

A strong medical knowledge of traumatic injury and occupation diseases is necessary.  This will allow for expected treatment, recovery periods, residual disability, and medical payments.

 

 

 

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: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

©2016 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

The Doctor Will See You: Using Treatment Parameters in Work Comp

Reducing workers’ compensation claim costs requires that members of the claims management team and other interested stakeholders know and understand the law.  Part of this includes using medical treatment parameters as a tool to promote the effective management of medical costs.

 

 

What are Medical Treatment Parameters?

 

Medical treatment parameters are not present under every workers’ compensation act.  About half of all jurisdictions employ some form of these guidelines.  This requires the claims handler to research the jurisdiction they are working in to understand if they are available.

 

The use of treatment parameters were developed to provide reasonable guidelines for care of all compensable workers’ compensation injuries.  All interested stakeholders, which included medical providers, vocational experts, developed them and attorneys from both sides and other parties involved in the process.  The result is they serves as a baseline to measure the effectiveness of medical care and treatment and promote quality health care.

 

 

When do Treatment Parameters Come into Play

 

Generally, all medical care and treatment provided to an injured worker is required to be reasonable and necessary to cure and relieve the effects of the work injury.  Workers’ compensation medical treatment parameters, which are not applicable in all situations, require that a medical provider demonstrate the medical care they provide results in continuous improvement in injury care that moves the employee toward maximum medical improvement, or full resolution.  When it comes to medical treatment parameters, it is important to remember they only apply in the following situations:

 

  • Claims where primary liability has been admitted, but there is a dispute concerning the treatment plan, or whether the medical care and treatment is reasonable and necessary; and
  • Instances where primary liability is denied, but later admitted. At that point, the treatment parameters can be used as a defense to the medical care and treatment being received by the employee.

 

It is important to review applicable statues and regulations before asserting a defense based on medical treatment parameters.

 

 

Using Medical Treatment Parameters in Your Claim

 

There is a statutory presumption that the medical treatment parameters are reasonable and necessary.  In essence, they are a “one size fits all” for workers’ compensation medical care.  While it is impossible to categorize all work-related injuries, a vast majority of them are covered under these guidelines.  Major injuries covered include:

 

  • Injuries and conditions to the spinal cord, including disc herniations, vertebrae fractures and pain symptomology;
  • Upper extremity conditions including fractures, dislocations, and common syndrome including carpal tunnel and lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow);
  • Traumatic brain injuries and cognitive dysfunctions;
  • Psychological, psychiatric care and mental illnesses; and
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) or other neurological conditions.

 

 

 

What is Covered under Medical Treatment Parameters?

 

Medical treatment parameters set forth the frequency of medical care and treatment provided to the employee.  The rationale is this avoids excessive care, waste and abuse within the system.  Common procedures covered include:

 

  • Imagining such as x-rays, MRIs and CT scans;
  • Use of prescription medications, including the use of opioid-based drugs;
  • Physical therapy and chiropractic care; and
  • Procedures that must be attempted prior to surgery.

 

It is important to note that departures are permissible in jurisdictions with medical treatment parameters.  An example of who this works can be found in Jacka v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co., 580 N.W.2d 27 (Minn. 1998).  In Jacka, the Minnesota Supreme Court noted that “the treatment parameters cannot anticipate every exceptional circumstance, we acknowledge that a compensation judge may depart from the rules in those rare cases in which departure is necessary to obtain proper treatment.”

 

 

Conclusions

 

Workers’ compensation medical treatment parameters are designed to avoid waste and abuse within the system, while at the same time ensuring injured workers receive their entitled care.  This requires members of the claims management team to determine if their jurisdiction has applicable parameters, understand how they can be used and effectively use them in the claim handling process.

 

 

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: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

©2016 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

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