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Obliged to or Ought to? 

28 Sep, 2023 Harvey Warren

harvey warren224x185
                               

Workers’ Comp has two distinct aspects in the provision of care.  There is the obligatory requirements under the “grand bargain” and then there are the emerging patient engagement strategies being discussed at State and National conventions that come under the heading of things that employers maybe “ought to do.” 

Typically, when enhanced services are suggested the knee jerk reaction is, “what is it going to cost me?”  Interestingly, when employers dig into the value, not the cost, of patient engagement the conversation shifts to, “can providing the injured worker with education and coaching in the areas of mindset, nutrition, activity and rest speed recovery and reduce their overall medical spend?”  When looking at the numbers, fairly quickly it becomes clear that what workers’ comp ought to do is as important as what it is obliged to do.  

The most compelling argument for the cost saving value of enhanced patient engagement was an Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Comp report of 1,198 knee injuries over three years of study.  You may read the entire study by following this link, https://myhealth.integerhealth.com/Images/Ohio%20Case%20Study%20(Journal%20of%20Total%20Rewards%20Q1%202023).pdf  but this is the key take-away, “Faster treatment and better care will lead to quicker, safer return to work and lower an employer's costs. That is what all of us at BWC want to achieve on each and every claim. And that is why, we worked with a team of stakeholders representing business, labor, managed care and the medical community to re-engineer how to deliver health care. The result is the Enhanced Care Program (ECP).”  By doing what they ought to do beyond the obligation, Ohio enjoyed a 30% reduction in a comparison between these two distinct aspects. 

At the recent WCI conference in Orlando, Dr. Melissa Tonn reported that of the most recent 25 patients she beta tested utilizing the educational materials and coaching strategy that grew out of the Optimized Patient book, they all returned to work timely and NONE of them litigated their claim.  The majority of these injured workers had co-morbidities and were cases that could have become chronic if not catastrophic.  The “ought to” of patient education and peer-to-peer recovery guide coaching provides an optimized patient engagement methodology that demonstrably reduces the duration and the cost of injured worker claims.     

Removing the adversarial nature of an injured worker “investigation” begins with providing more than the obligatory provision of medical care and comp.  Engaging an injured worker with recovery education and guidance reassures the injured worker that their employer cares about and values them.  The cost of programming is subordinate to the savings enjoyed by active patient engagement.  The patient is the wildcard in the recovery process. Employers ought to be stacking the deck in their favor. Said simply, you ought to be obliged to provide enhanced worker care, because you ought to be saving money! 


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    About The Author

    • Harvey Warren

      Harvey Warren has enjoyed many careers, from screenwriter to film producer to financial services professional. With a bachelor’s de­gree in communications from Ithaca College and a master’s degree from Syracuse Univer­sity, writing has always been his passion. As the Optimized Patient he fulfills his dream to write about healing. Joining the Experts Analysis enables Mr. Warren to directly contribute the “patient’s view” to the industry. Mr. Warren lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Wileen.

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