Occupational Disease Claims Can Spike Work Comp Costs Without Warning

December 10, 2015 by Michael B. Stack Leave a Comment

Occupational Disease ClaimsOccupational disease claims can strike without warning.  They can be presented long after employment has ended, and may or may not be the result of employment.   Medical and scientific proofs for causal relationship can be vague or misleading, and more and more normal health failures are being alleged and adjudged as work induced.  When occupational disease litigation is necessary, the trend in these cases has been favoring the employee.

These are just a few of the problems accompanying Occupational Disease Cases.

Injury Factors:

On the job injury claims are usually associated with a definite date, time, and place; with medical recovery and return to work the expected outcome.  The majority of these claims can be adequately measured for expected cost and should follow a consistent protocol of injury response: claim investigation, medical management, return to work, etc. Litigation is usually a small percentage of claims.

Experience and premium ratings are easily determined since most injury losses are measurable.

Occupational Disease Factors:

There are occupations where employees can be exposed diseases contracted on the job, where the outcome is not as clear cut.  Medical, Police, and Fire Professionals can easily come in contact with many foreign elements on the job.  Drug manufactures or users, forensic laboratories, and chemical manufacturers are more places where employees can be exposed to situations not common to the public at large.  Jobs exposed to high noise levels, repetitive motion, vibrations, and airborne particles can also be expected to develop occupational diseases and disabilities. Continue reading Occupational Disease Claims Can Spike Work Comp Costs Without Warning

Shoulder Surgery? There’s an App for That!

Study tests a postoperative app platform for day surgery patients

JMIR Guest Contribution | December 8, 2015

The Development of RAPP: A Mobile Phone Application for Post-Operative Recovery Monitoring and Assessment

App for post operative surgery patients1. What was the motivation behind your study?
There is a current lack of a standardised follow-up after discharge when undergoing day surgery. Day surgery is a high-quality, safe and cost-effective approach and it is fast becoming the norm for nearly all elective surgery. These practices still leave many patients feeling insecure, worried, and lonely after discharge due to a lack of feedback and information regarding normality and relevant expectations during the recovery process leading to unexpected visits to health care providers and hospital re-admissions. Systematic follow up will enhance patients´ self-care capability and knowledge about managing their own health and recovery.

2. Describe your study
This paper describes the development process of a web-based application Recovery Assessment by Phone Points (RAPP) — a post operative app platform. The development included five steps:
setting up an interdisciplinary task force evaluating the potential needs of app users developing the Swedish web version of a quality of recovery questionnaire constructing a smartphone application
evaluating the interface and design by staff working in a day-surgery department and patients undergoing day surgery.
RAPP consists of two parts: a smartphone app installed on the patient’s private smartphone, and an administrator interface for the researchers.

3. What were the results of the study?
The evaluation of the interface and design led to some minor adjustments concerning text size and screen color. The visual analogue scale (0-10), on which the items were answered, was clarified and was made easier to answer by only touching the line and the dot on line was programmed to go back to neutral, 5, each time a new question was shown. Overall, that the app was considered easy to use, understand, and navigate by both patients and personnel. A web based app including The Swedish web-based Quality of Recovery (SWQoR) can be installed and functional in patients own smartphones.

4. What is the main point that readers should take away from this study?

Taking advantage of joint expertise, a usable web-based app adaptable to different technical platforms was constructed. In addition, the SWQoR was successfully transferred into digital format for use on mobile phones.


Changing Face of Pain Treatment – a Game Changer?

pain treatment ladder graphBy Judge David Langham 12/08/2015

I have noted before that many of the issues we face in workers’ compensation do not necessarily make it into the national media.

But pain medication is starting to finally getting some attention from the mainstream news media.  A Los Angeles Times story on October 30, 2015 reports on a doctor “convicted of second-degree murder” after multiple patients died of overdose. Though there were allegedly more related deaths, the prosecution was for three particular deaths linked to medication use or misuse. The paper refers to the case as “landmark” and notes that it “was closely watched by medical and legal professionals across the country.”

There has been a great deal of discussion in LinkedIn, at conferences, and in blog posts about prescription medication overdose. There is also an interesting and disturbing corollary of increased Heroin use, addiction, and deaths, which some blame in part on their contention that prescription opiods are a gateway drug leading to Heroin use.
Continue reading Changing Face of Pain Treatment – a Game Changer?

OSHA Issues Tools to Help Prevent Workplace Violence in Healthcare Settings

By WorkersCompensation.com 12/01/2015 15:47:00

Stop Workplace Violence signWashington, DC (WorkersCompensation.com) – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today unveiled a new webpage developed to provide employers and workers with strategies and tools for preventing workplace violence in healthcare settings.

The webpage, part of OSHA’s Worker Safety in Hospitals website, complements the updated Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers*, published earlier this year. The new webpage includes real-life examples from healthcare organizations that have incorporated successful workplace violence prevention programs, and models of how a workplace violence prevention program can complement and enhance an organization’s strategies for compliance and a culture of safety.

Similar to the guidelines, the new strategies and tools focus on workplace violence prevention programs that include elements such as management commitment and worker participation; worksite analysis and hazard identification; hazard prevention and control; safety and health training; and recordkeeping and program evaluation.

“Too many healthcare workers face threats and physical violence on the job while caring for our loved ones,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “It is not right that these valuable workers continue to be injured and sometimes killed on the job. Most of these injuries are preventable and OSHA is providing these resources to help combat these incidents and raise awareness that violence does not need to be part of the job.”


Mood Tracker App Helping Veterans and Service Members

Douglas Maurer, DO/MPH/FAAFP | November 18, 2015

Mood Tracker AppSince 9/11, the country has been at war. This longest conflict in US history has resulted in an enormous number of active duty soldiers and veterans with mental health concerns.

Part of the response to these issues was the creation of numerous apps by the Department of Defense National Center for Telehealth and Technology (AKA T2). These apps are targeted for both patients and providers and cover topics ranging from depression, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder to traumatic brain injury and resiliency.

One of the most popular apps they have released to date has been T2 Mood Tracker. Previously on iMedicalApps we reviewed an unrelated app developed by a patient with bipolar disorder called Mood Watch.

T2 Mood Tracker was developed by psychologists at T2 and has become popular with civilian as well as military and veteran patients. The purpose of the app is to provide patients the ability to track their mood and behavior in order to identify trends or triggers.

The data is ideal for patients receiving cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as the data can track mood between visits and can be shared with their healthcare providers. This is an app that can get into a patient’s “white space”–the time when patients are NOT with a healthcare provider (approximately 525,000 minutes per year).

There is not a lot of robust data for mood tracker, but the DOD has performed some research using T2 Mood Tracker with service members and veterans. One published study showed the app was “beneficial, easy to use, and useful” and was useful for PTSD symptoms, chronic health conditions and bipolar symptoms.

The app allows patients to record their mood via multiple categories such as anxiety, depression, stress, etc. In each category, patients can adjust simple sliders for common mood questions and add more detailed notes. All of this information can be tracked and graphed on the app.

The data can be saved offline by patients and or shared with providers. All of the data is “sandboxed” on the device and cannot be “seen” by anyone but the patient without their deliberately doing so.


Using Technology to Improve Injured Worker Satisfaction

November 24, 2015 by Michael B. Stack Leave a Comment

filling workers' comp claim on smartphoneEvery workers’ compensation claims starts with an injured employee.  Improving the process when it comes to the reporting of that injury can save claim management teams time and money.  It can also buy good will from the people who deserve it most—the injured worker.


Barriers in the System

Countless studies demonstrate that injured workers believe the biggest barrier they face post-injury is a reporting system that is not responsive to their needs.  This is due in part to state (and sometimes federal) regulations that require paper work be completed in a timely manner.  In addition to being off work, injured workers get frustrated with time spent completing required forms.

Successful workers’ compensation programs are able to overcome these threshold barriers.  Improving the way an injured employee communicates with their employer and claims management team can lead to decreased time away from work and lower medical costs associated with the injury.


Making Technology Work for Your Program

Simplifying the injury reporting process can allow an injured party to report easily their injury.  Efforts to improve the process include the following:

  • The use of telephonic reporting systems has proven the ease of reporting work injuries.  In an age where a vast majority or workers have quick access to a telephone allows for injury reporting to be completed in a promote manner.
  • Web-based technology. Access to the Internet is nearly universal in the United States.  This allows injured employees to complete the required paper work in a prompt manner and ensures the accuracy of the reporting.
  • App based technology. Innovative companies are taking the reporting of work injuries to the next level.  The use of smartphone apps is allowing injured parties to complete documents immediately and can include photography to document the incident.

Synchronization Improves Claim Handling

Technology is also allowing claim management teams to provide a timely response to employees injured in the workplace.  One example of this includes the concept of “synchronization.”  This process recognizes the potential needs of an injured worker and allows the claim handler to customize a holistic approach to a claim and exceed the expectations of their client and claimant.