Interested stakeholders and those seeking to reduce workers’ compensation program costs need to understand and implement an injury triage program. When done properly, injury triage can significantly reduce workers’ compensation costs, return injured employees to work, and increase employee workplace satisfaction. Now is the time to implement injury triage in your workers’ compensation program.
Injury Triage and Its Importance
Responding to an injured employee needs to be done immediately and effectively. Benefits of an effective injury response include:
- Effective and complete documentation of the work injury. This information can be used in claim investigation and future program cost mitigation;
- Reduce the need for excessive and ineffective post-injury medical care. Once the injury is assessed correctly, better medical care options for the employee is directed; and
- It places the injured employee as a top priority in the workers’ compensation process. This can minimize the need for unnecessary litigation.
Now is the time to consider implementing injury triage in your workers’ compensation program.
Implementing an Injury Triage Program
A successful injury triage program is often done through the use of a telephonic or web-based platform. It is easy to implement, and services many roles following a work injury.
One of the critical parts of an injury triage program is access to a qualified provider that follows evidence-based medicine protocols. This is often accomplished by using nurses, nurse practitioners, or other advanced practice medical professionals who have a strong medical background and follow a consistent decision-making algorithm. If the work injury does not require immediate transport to a health care facility, the injured employee can speak with an on-call health care professional via telemedicine.
The purpose of the triage call will include the following:
- Review of the mechanism of injury, and history from the injured employee;
- Assessment of the employee’s condition, and referral to a health care professional for future medical care, if necessary; and
- A referral can be made to a health care provider for future medical care. The triage nurse can assist in providing medical information to that health care provider.
Proper employee medical care is paramount, but often does not require medical care outside the workplace. In roughly 43% of all instances, the employee will not need to leave the job site or work location. (statistic provided by Medcor) This reduces the cost of unnecessary medical appointments and further lost time from work.
Important Benefits of Triage Injury Management
There are important takeaways from this process that allows employers to reduce their workers’ compensation program costs:
- Employees receive IMMEDIATE medical care and treatment from a qualified health care professional;
- Important information regarding the work injury is collected in real-time. This includes information on the mechanism of injury, and proper documentation of symptoms or problems that were the result of the work injury; and
- Excessive medical costs are avoided. When the employee can receive coordinated medical care onsite, they can get back to work as soon as possible. They also can receive better direction on future medical care.
Technology makes this process simple and affordable. Telephonic and web-based systems allow employers to subscribe to services at flat rates, which allow them to manage their costs. It can also help them save in the long run when it comes to insurance premiums.
As stated by Curtis Smith, Executive VP, Medcor “Injury Triage, in the Worker’s Comp space, is an effective way to provide on-demand decision support. It’s a service to help employers make good decisions about what to do when one of their employees gets hurt. Following best practice protocols is a way to introduce consistency into the reporting process, which gets everything on the right track from the beginning.”
The Other Intangible – Building Strong Employee Morale
Injury triage programs also send a positive message to all employees – they are a valuable asset to the employer. When done properly, it can pay dividends to any workers’ compensation program.
All aspects of injury triage need to be performed in a safe and secure environment. This includes remembering that state and federal privacy rules apply. Factors that need to be taken into consideration include:
- Ensuring all injured employees can communicate with the triage nurse in a private setting;
- Records and documentation regarding the employee’s injury need to remain confidential; and
- Details regarding an employee’s work injury should be treated with dignity and respect.
When employees see employers acting in a respectful manner, they will feel more comfortable returning to the work environment. Other employees will have a more positive view of the employer as well.
Injury triage programs can help drive down excessive workers’ compensation program costs. This includes employers’ ability to manage their costs, implement an effective program with little effort, and provide employees with best in class medical care immediately after a work injury.
Author Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%. He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a 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 the founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center, which offers the Certified Master of Workers’ Compensation national designation.
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