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Working Well

Feature Article

Reprinted with permission from PartNers and the National Association of Occupational Health Professionals.

Collaboration Key to Managing Comp Claims
 
Experts Say Stewardship Helps Cut Costs, Improve Results

A stewardship program that provides a structure for stakeholders to jointly apply an analytical approach to workers' compensation claims management has been shown to reduce costs and improve outcomes.

Expert panelists at the recent Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference produced by Risk & Insurance cited numerous benefits of a cross-disciplinary collaboration including:

• The ability to establish baselines for comparative analysis.
• An opportunity to focus on trends to illuminate strengths and areas in need of improvement.
• A structure for the development of an action plan that delineates organizational goals, metrics and deliverables. 

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Government Watchdog

 Economy Affects Return-to-Work Rates

High unemployment rates appear to be increasing disability duration rates for injured workers, according to Factors Influencing Return to Work for Injured Workers: Lessons from Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, a new report from the non-profit Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), Cambridge, Mass. In case studies, researchers found the economy has diminished employers' capacity to offer temporary modified duty assignments to injured workers and provide permanent job accommodations for workers who need them.

The analysis suggests that governmental policies on temporary disability benefit termination that provide financial incentives and promote early return to work help reduce employers' indemnity costs, minimize injured worker detachment and decrease the likelihood of longer-term absence. Visit www.wcrinet.org.

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Health Habits

Occupational Medicine Guidelines Discourage Use of Opioids

Opioid prescriptions for the treatment of chronic pain are one the most under-appreciated cost drivers in workers' compensation, Joe Paduda, principal, Health Strategy Associates, Madison, Conn., said during a presentation at the annual national Workers' Compensation and Disability Management Conference.

Medications that fall within the opioid class include hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), morphine (Kadian, Avinza) and codeine. Occupational medicine specialists say an injured worker who is taking an opioid medication is at much greater risk for extended disability and drug dependency than one who is treated in accordance with American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine guidelines (www.acoem.org/Guidelines_Opioids.aspx).

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