The trusted source for
healthcare information and
ID root causes of specific injury types
Managing each case to closure
Imagine being an occupational health nurse at a plant that had 10% of its workforce off work, because of work-related injuries or illnesses. That was the challenge facing consultant Patricia B. Strasser, PhD, RN, COHN-S/CM, FAAOHN, principal of Partners in BusinessHealth Solutions in Toledo, OH.
"The overwhelming problem was upper extremity cumulative trauma disorders," says Strasser. "I worked with a team, and our approach was multi-faceted."First, ergonomists were brought in to help with the root causes of the injuries. "A comprehensive ergonomics program was developed to 'stop the bleeding.'"
The plant did not have a return to work program, so a policy and comprehensive program was developed. "We began to return employees to transitional duty," says Strasser. "The program was critical with new cases, so that workers could remain at work. The nurse's role as case manager was critical to the ultimate success."
Goals for each case
"Most importantly, we developed a workers' comp management team to manage each case to closure," says Strasser. "There were a lot of open cases." A goal was developed for each case, such as return to full duty or return to a permanent alternate job. The team worked diligently, meeting weekly, to realize the particular goal of each case.
"Fortunately, it was a state that allowed full and final settlements, as there were individuals who would never be able to return to the plant for various reasons, and settlement was the best option," says Strasser.
ID cost drivers
Strasser says that the simple answer to identifying cost drivers is "examine the data." Most workers' compensation insurers and third party administrators (TPAs) make a lot of data available to companies in standard reports, as well as through customized reports.
"The workers' comp 'loss runs' contain information that can help target strategies to deal with the costs," says Strasser. This can help you answer questions such as, "Are new cases or old cases driving costs?" "Does one plant or department have dramatically increased claims?" "Are costs due to a particular type of injury or illness?" "Are medical costs increasing more than industry norms?"
"The insurer or third party administrator is available to help examine the data to identify cost drivers," says Strasser.
For more information on identifying workers' compensation cost drivers, contact:
Patricia B. Strasser, PhD, RN, COHN-S/CM, FAAOHN, Partners in BusinessHealth Solutions, Inc, Toledo, OH. Phone: (419) 882-0342. Fax: (419) 843-2623. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.