Workers Compensation

Choosing the Right Medical Provider

9/12/2019 | Ray Gage

When do you need to report a workplace injury or illness?  As soon as reasonably possible, preferably the day of or at least the day an incident occurred that has the potential to lead to injury or illness.  Last week we stressed the importance of prompt reporting and the impact it can have on a business, starting this week, we introduce the critical role that the medical provider plays in the Conquering Zero process.   

It is critical that employers take the time to identify, interview and engage with qualified medical providers to handle all their workplace incidents.  Why does it matter?  We are not trying to disparage the general medical community in any way, as it is critical to the well-being of our society.  However, just as you wouldn’t choose a podiatrist to perform heart surgery or a dermatologist to extract a tooth, not every provider is qualified to help you manage workplace injuries. 

Do I have any sports fans reading this?  Consider the fact that an injury to an employee needs to be handled more like that of a professional athlete.  They are critical to the smooth operation of your business and you need them back in the game sooner rather than later.  If you injure your back at home, the general course of treatment involves some type of pain medication and rest.  Yet that is not conducive to a workplace injury, as it prolongs the process of getting the employee back to full capacity.   

An occupational medical facility, staffed with professionals who are trained in the identification and treatment of workplace injuries, is imperative as part of your overall worker’s compensation management process.  They can manage the injury to the best possible outcome in a timelier manner, much like specialists and team doctors assist professional athletes to return to action as quickly as possible. Some of the desired practice behaviors include: 

  1. Notification of the work injury to the employer by the treating provider 
  2. Use of treatment guidelines or protocols in the care of the injured worker 
  3. Use of standardized work restriction forms 
  4. Ability to identify ergonomic job risks 
  5. Ability to provide case management 
  6. The absence of social decisions when determining a release to work 

Injury management is a core value for most qualified occupational health providers.  Employers deserve clinic relationships that want to partner with them in the overall health and safety of their employees.  A clinic should be more than willing to visit the facilities of the employers with whom they partner to help them identify problem areas and offer suggestions on corrective actions.  It is also a great way for the medical provider to talk intelligently to an injured employee because they have observed the essential job functions and understand how injuries can and cannot occur. 

A clinic’s core values should include: 

  1. Provide optimal health care treatment and follow-up care to injured workers 
  2. Improve efficiency and quality of information for the injured worker, employer and insurance company 
  3. Coordinate and manage treatment and rehabilitation with other providers to facilitate a speedy recovery and return to work 
  4. Focused on reducing workers’ compensation costs 

One of the key components of managing workplace injuries in Indiana is that the employer has the right to direct care.  In other words, the employer can choose the providers they want to work with for workplace injuries.  One thing that I have noticed in almost 30 years of evaluating worker’s compensation injuries is the difference in costs between claims that were aggressively managed through a productive employer-clinic relationship as opposed to claims that were haphazardly managed or not managed at all. 

As part of Conquering Zero, we can provide you with the tools you need to establish these critical relationships.  This includes identifying qualified providers, evaluating utilization and outcome data, medical facility evaluation forms, introductory letters from us requesting meetings to assess compatibility and performance agreements for both sides to set the ground rules of what all parties should expect from the partnership. 

Don’t leave this choice in the hands of anyone else.  Partner with us in your quest to Conquer Zero and achieve the unthinkable!  

About the Author:

Ray Gage, Director of WalkerHughes Allen County Office, is a Master Work Comp Advisor who's passion and life's work is to help sophisticated, process-oriented businesses create safe, healthy, productive workplaces, and as a result, more profitable firms.  For more information on Automate Safety along with the other tools offered by WalkerHughes to assist in your quest for Zero Injuries, contact Ray at r.gage@walkerhughes.com or by phone at 260-627-3641 with any questions or inquiries.