The Elephant in the Room

24 Feb, 2022 Harvey Warren


“For 17 years I have visited state houses across the country... working on laws and regulations related to the provision of care for injured workers. In my travels I have encountered many people who talk constantly about injured workers who get hurt at work who should get better but never do. They may have the best medical care and best medical advice available, but yet, for some reason, they just never get better.” (Excerpt from “Need for Optimized Outcome Solutions” video)

A book, “The Optimized Patient,” written by an injured worker, opened my eyes to a significant void in the care of injured workers. In the author’s words, “I wanted to get better, I just did not know how.” The book made clear to me that the patient is wildcard in the recovery process because they simply don’t know what to do. Patient education is the simple solution to one of our most stubborn and costly challenges often causing delayed or failed recoveries. The question I am asking, and now regulators are asking is, what are we going to do about it? A lack of patient education in the recovery process is the elephant in the room.

At a recent presentation in Tennessee, I talked about the book, “The Optimized Patient.” The author, Harvey Warren, is a long-time friend of mine. He, together with five other patients, five doctors, a couple of physical therapists, a nutritionist and even a chiropractor wrote about the complexity of healing. Their accounts of the non-medical challenges in recovery reveal how completely unprepared and minimally supported patients are in the recovery process. Sure, insurers and employers do their best to provide the best medical care to “fix” the injury, but the healing process can be a long and sometimes endless process without the proper guidance. As a government relations leader for the workers’ compensation industry, I worked with Harvey and others to create an effective program to “coach” patients through surgical preparation and injury recovery. Optimized Outcome Solutions is now in the latter part of its testing phase with a self-insured group in Texas. Our program uses self-management and peer guidance to aid individuals in the recovery process.

To quote one of our educators, NBA Hall of Famer, Bill Walton, “I want a coach. Someone who has been where I want to get and knows how to get there.” The Optimized Outcome Solutions patient education approach is supported by recent studies by the CDC advocating the value of self-management and peer coaching for chronic conditions. For years employers have been required to provide safety training to help prevent injuries. Now, more and more regulators are hearing from stakeholders on the need for education and coaching to support recovery from workplace injuries. It has been my experience that this industry, any industry, does better by developing its own guidance rather than having labor commissions, insurance departments or other regulatory bodies design them. The workers’ compensation industry now has the opportunity to lead the development of patient education and design a model that is both effective and economically viable. Optimized Outcome Solutions is one example that is showing promise. My experience to date is the cost of patient education is scant compared to the cost of a failed recovery. Let’s roll up our sleeves and wrap our arms around the elephant in the room. 

Harvey Warren has enjoyed many careers from screenwriter to film producer to financial services professional. As author of the Optimized Patient book and survivor of three spine surgeries, he writes about the problem that “patients want to get better, they just don't know how.” Optimized Outcome Solutions translates his book into a service providing real-time guidance on how to “get better faster and stay better longer.”

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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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