Workers’ compensation medical and indemnity costs continue to rise and are now the two biggest workers’ comp challenges employers face.
To address these problem areas, some employers are utilizing an injury management service call “triage nursing” which leverages a nurse call center to facilitate timely, accurate reporting of injuries. Triage injuries to the most appropriate level of care, and improves return-to-work outcomes through immediate and detailed information delivery.
When risk management professionals think of a nurse’s involvement in the workers’ comp process, they normally think of “nurse case managers” in the traditional context. However, “triage” nurses get involved much sooner in the WC process – basically at the point of injury to assist employees in obtaining quality medical care. When an injury is reported, the nurse provides an objective medical assessment and channels the employee to the most appropriate, cost-effective level of care.
The first and primary benefit is improved medical care for employees. Triage nurses are highly compassionate medical professionals, who listen closely to the details of each injury and provide personalized attention to each employee, focusing on unique medical needs. As a result, employees have an overwhelming positive experience in the workers’ compensation process. Employers that provide this type of service send a clear message-that they care about their employees’ health, safety, and well-being. In addition, these organizations benefit from increased employee satisfaction, and consequently, decreased litigation.
The second benefit is a consistent, well-managed injury reporting process. Although it’s commonly understood that prompt reporting of injuries leads to improved claims costs and outcomes, there are still many delays and obstacles to compliance. An injured employee may wait to report an injury until it becomes worse and requires serious medical attention. Supervisors may be delayed in filing the proper claims form.
The third benefit is ensuring that every injury receives treatment appropriate to its level of medical severity. In the past, employers would often train supervisors to respond to worksite injuries, but these managers are not trained medical professionals. They would often err on the side of caution, sending employees-even those with minor injuries-to the emergency room.
Ultimately, workers’ compensation losses impact an organization’s bottom line, so containing these costs is important. By implementing a “Day of Injury” Nurse Triage, employers can reduce healthcare costs by as much as 20 percent, and by integrating a structured RTW program, injured employees recover and return to work sooner-reducing lost time by as much as 50 percent.
Paul Binsfeld is the CEO of Company Nurse, a firm specializing in workers’ compensation injury triage and management. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org , or go to www.companynurse.com.
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws are different. Consult with your corporate legal counsel or other professionals before implementing any cost containment programs.
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