To be truly effective in controlling the medical cost of workers compensation, employers and insurers should not limit their medical cost containment efforts to only one or a few areas. While state statutes may limit or bar the use of some the methods of controlling cost, the employer or the insurer should utilize as many medical cost containment strategies as possible. All of the following medical cost containment strategies have been shown to save money for the employer or the insurer. (WCxKit) Spend now to achieve overall lower workers compensation costs. This is how to hold costs down over the long term. This is referred to as the TLC (total loss costs).Top 10 Medical Cost Containment Strategies
- A SUPERIOR Medical Provider Network is a group of doctors, hospitals and other medical providers with whom an insurer or a self-insured employer has prearranged for medical treatment for employees injured on the job AND provides better results than other providers – lower litigation rates, better medical outcome, faster return to work.
- Nurse Triage is used as the very first phone call that is made (after the supervisor). The employee calls an RN who discusses the severity of the injury and the probably type of treatment that will be needed. These aren’t just any nurse, but specially trained ones using medical algorithms and overseen by sophisticated protocol to ensure appropriate referrals are made the the Emergency Dept, clinical treatment or self-care. If every injury is called in to Nurse Triage, the number of lost time claims will be reduced by 40%. The ROI is huge! I’ve toured the Medcor operation and was amazed at the efficiency and the training (I sat in the training room to view the type of training the RNs receive.) I was a guest of Broadspire who uses Medcor for their sophisticated medical protocol partner.
- Medical Management is the practice of having an experienced nurse case manager to coordinate and managed the medical care received by the employee. This includes both the senior nurse reviewer who may be dedicated to an account handling all lost time or serious medical claims for that company. They review all care and treatment for injured employees to insure it is appropriate and timely. If additional tests are needed they will advise the doctors. Their priority is getting the employee back to full recover.
- Utilization Review is the independent confirmation of the need for a medical service. Utilization review includes precertification reviews before the medical care is provided, concurrent reviews while the employee is in the hospital or during on-going medical care, and retrospective reviews to verify the needs for the medical services already provided.
- Medical Bill Reviews are normally done by companies that specialize in reviewing the medical bill to verify the accuracy of the medical bill diagnostic codes and medical bill charges. The medical bill charges are either compared to the state fee bill schedule or with what are reasonable and customary charges for the medical services provided. Medical bill reviews include both the audits of doctor bill and hospital bill auditing.
- Pharmacy Benefit Managers are companies that specialize in managing and controlling the cost of medications prescribed for the employee. This includes both obtaining discounts on medications plus providing drug utilization reviews to prevent the excessive use of narcotics and other medications. Using physicians to actively review claims results in proactive pharmacy benefits management, rather than after the fact review of medications already taken, can stop overuse before it occurs.
- Independent Medical Examinations occur when the employee is sent to another medical provider for a second opinion. Independent medical examinations are most often used when the employee’s medical recovery progress is slower than normal.
- Peer Reviews is the practice of sending the medical reports and diagnostic reports to another medical provider for a review of the medical information for the purpose of confirming the appropriateness and quality of the medical care being provided. Using physician review is in my opinion one of the most useful tools an employer can use. They can read he medical reports to find what’s NOT there. They look for other possible causes of injury, appropriateness of care and make sure employees go to the correct specialists. This service may be called Peer-to-Peer.
The era of computers has created the ability to use technology to obtain information that would not otherwise be available including:
- Predictive Modeling is used to identify early on those claims that have a high probability of becoming expensive claims so they can be acted upon quickly.
- Data Mining is used to identify high cost medical providers; medical providers who are slow to return the employee to work and to identify other claim related information that impacts claim cost.
- Benchmarking is using the known information about your workers’ compensation claims to compare your cost control results against others employers or insurers. (WCxKit)
- Send me your ideas for YOUR favorite Medical Cost Containment Strategy. Let me know if it’s OK to share your ideas. Please write up to 200 words.
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
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