By STEVE YAHN, who has written for national publications for more than 30 years.
"Giving back" is a hallmark of the workers' compensation and disability management system at Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic.
Jane Ryan, section head of the system's return to work activities, is a prime example. Ryan and her group operate a mentorship program that revamps case management and return to work systems at organizations as large as the University of Minnesota."The university and other groups chose to adopt some of the things we've done here," says Ryan.
On an external basis, Ryan's group has partnered with the Duluth Clinic, Duluth, Minn., and the Park Nicollet Clinic in Minneapolis to offer a national continuing education conference for physicians on return to work issues, helping them enhance their practice and understand how disability works.The first conference was held in October in Duluth.
Internally, Ryan and her group offer educational programs for Mayo supervisors annually. "It's a way for us to give back to our managers," says Ryan. "We're always giving them information and we have continuing education credits. And we bring in speakers to talk with them about return to work."
Through its various programs, the Mayo Clinic's return-to-work section realized an $840,000 savings in 2007.
Further, the clinic's Department of Recovery and Claims Services provides outreach and training activities to new supervisors as part of an ongoing orientation process. Annually the department coordinates an all-day seminar, geared toward supervisors, that addresses a variety of disability topics. The onsite location of these seminars promotes strong supervisor attendance and leads to building strong relationships with integral parts of the Mayo Clinic's integrated disability management model.
The department maintains a Web site that is accessible to supervisors and employees to provide education on processes and techniques to address disability issues that arise in the work place.
In addition, in a novel program, the Mayo Clinic helps patients deal with legal issues.
"We work very closely with the business advocacy section so that when they have patients that come with workers' comp legal issues and their bills aren't getting paid we can work together to get bills paid," says Stacy Kohlnhofer, executive director of the clinic's Recovery and Claims Services.
Another prized part of the workers' comp and disability management system is the Department of Recovery and Claims Services "home grown" database which handles some 2,500 cases a year and went live in 2003.
"Previously we had purchased an outside commercial product and tried to customize it to our needs and it just never did everything we wanted it to," says Laura Mundt, claims section head. "So we, with the help of the Mayo IT team, developed our own claims management software product.
And now we're able to interface with the return-to-work consultants, the safety department, the employee health personnel all through the use of one database. This has been very helpful in communication and making everyone aware of when injuries are happening."
Two other areas are particularly prized by the Mayo Recovery and Claims Services group: its Integrated Disability Management system and its Total Absence Management system.
Through the former, the claims section of the group serves as the primary resource to employees and supervisors for claims administration, processing both workers' comp and long-term disability claims for the Mayo Clinic.
The groups that are coordinated by IDM are return to work; employee; employee assistance program; claims human resources; safety and ergonomics; health care provider; supervisor, and outside resources.
Total absence management allows for the coordination of all absences, whether the absence is a work injury, non-work injury or personal leave. As a result, employees are supported to return to work earlier, Mayo sites regain their valuable employees faster and disability costs are minimized. In 2008, this claims administration will be offered to all Mayo sites.
(Check out the profiles of the other Teddy Award winners.)
November 1, 2008
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