Even at the safest work sites, injuries occur. When they do, they're expensive to deal with, as employee trips to the emergency room often occur. Sometimes serious injuries are not recognized, and care is delayed. The provider networks developed by insurers and employers are often bypassed. Late reporting hampers risk managers, case managers and third-party administrators. No wonder workers' comp costs continue to rise.
Typically, only the largest organizations can afford their own dedicated medical staff to tend to on-the-job injuries. What about all the small- and medium-sized work sites?
Today, businesses of any size and type can access state-of-the-art health care directly in the workplace through new injury-triage technology. Exceeding simple claims reporting, these new services use software and specially trained nurses to provide immediate assessments and recommend the best treatment for on-the-job injuries.
Consider the results: better decisions, near-instantaneous care for employees, referrals channeled to the preferred provider network, risk managers receiving more accurate data and employers incurring fewer claims and costs.
In fact, some employers using injury-triage systems have reduced their workers' comp claims by up to 50 percent and decreased their costs by as much as 30 percent. Employers that already do an excellent job managing injuries may see more modest results, but even single-digit decreases help in the face of ever-increasing costs.
HOW PHONE TRIAGE WORKS
Here's how online triage service works to ensure optimal outcomes. First, triage services are designed around the principle of immediate intervention available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from any phone. When an injury occurs, the affected employee and the supervisor simply phone the clinical call center at the moment of the incident. The triage center is staffed by nurses using clinical algorithms embedded in software developed by a team of doctors and nurses experienced in occupational health and emergency medicine.
Next, the triage nurse gathers detailed information over the phone to assess and document the case. Language translation is provided if necessary. Guided by the software and professional judgment, the nurse recommends treatment that is appropriate for each case. Referrals are channeled to the employer's preferred network or panel. The nurse also collects Occupational Safety and Health Administration data about the incident and recaps the treatment regimen with the supervisor at the end of the call. Finally, incident data is relayed to the employer's risk management department--all within minutes of the incident.
Employees benefit from rapid medical attention. Employers benefit by avoiding unnecessary claims. Risk managers receive reports of incidents and can access their data over a secure Web site to analyze trends and devise preventative measures.
Automation, scalability and centralized call centers make telephone triage very affordable by spreading costs over multiple users. Best of all, companies don't have to change their existing insurance carrier, broker, TPA or internal systems to benefit from injury triage. Companies can discover savings that exceed the triage costs with a return on investment as high as 10 to one!
CURTIS H. SMITH is vice president of business development for Medcor Inc., a McHenry, Ill.,-based vendor of occupational health-care services.
November 1, 2005
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