The longer an injured employee is out of work, the harder it is to return to their job, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics. Employers are also generally unaware that the time that lapses between an injury and the filing of a claim significantly increases the resulting costs. The Hartford Research Study in 2004 found that claims filed over a month after the injury cost an average of 48% more to settle than those reported in a timely fashion. The study also found that even a delay of a week results in 10% more costs. The delay in a claim could also delay the treatment, which could add to the cost of medical care and wage replacement. The best strategy is to implement a 24-hour injury response process.
However, the duty of the employer does not end with the filing of the claim. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that their employee receives appropriate care, for the benefit of both parties. Proper medical care that can still keep the employee in the normal routine of coming to work is the key to maintaining an injured employee. However, even if a physician or provider is credentialed through a network, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are familiar with injury management, or are aimed at returning the employee to work as soon as possible.
Factors to evaluate the appropriateness of a provider are:
- Availability of case management
- Use of standardized work restriction forms
- Ability to identify ergonomic job risks
- Treatment guidelines in the care of the injured worker
- Willingness to coordinate and manage treatment and rehabilitation to facilitate a speedy recovery and return to work.
This is also an important step in establishing effective employer-employee relations, because when employers take on this responsibility, they will be able to:
- Improve access to care that results in early treatment and speedier recovery
- Establish origin of injury: is it really a workers’ comp claim?
- Improve effectiveness of treatment
- Reduce claim costs
- Show your employees that you value them and are committed to their return.
Lower claims costs and a quick, effective recovery benefit all parties involved, and will maintain both your worker satisfaction as well as the productivity of your company.