April 20, 2017 by
The days of focusing solely on an injured worker’s physical injuries are over. Savvy employers and payers are finding that ignoring behavioral issues can end up costing a boatload of money in delayed recoveries. Early intervention, good communication and worker advocacy are among the best practices to use.
Injured workers who have, or develop undiagnosed and untreated behavioral health issues are more likely to fall into the ‘creeping catastrophic’ claim pool; a simple meniscus tear that degenerates into a months- or years-long claim with multiple treatments and medications — and exorbitant costs.
Identifying and treating these issues is tricky. The stigma attached to mental health issues prevents many people from seeking treatment; providers and claims handlers are often unfamiliar with signs and symptoms; and payers may be reluctant to pay for something they believe is unrelated to the actual injury. However, it behooves employers and other payers to at least consider ways to target behavioral health issues among their injured workers.
Behavioral Health Issues
Behavioral health issues — also called mental health or psychosocial — include a variety of diagnoses. Anxiety and depression are the ones more commonly seen among injured workers.
In addition to an extended duration of the claim, some signs that may indicate a psychosocial issue is present include:
- Pain develops due to non-medical issues.
- Function does not improve.
- Multiple providers are involved.
- Visits to the emergency room with drug seeking behavior.
- Overutilization of treatments.
- Catastrophic thinking.
- Perceived injustice, toward the employer or others.
There are myriad reasons why some injured workers develop psychosocial issues, related to such things as adverse childhood experiences, environmental stimuli or genetics. The important thing is to identify them and intervene as early as possible.
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By Safety National 10/06/2016
This session at the 2016 California Workers’ Compensation & Risk Conference addressed some of the latest thinking and research related to the impact of mental well being and behavioral health in the workplace.
• Denise Zoe Algire, National Director, Managed Care & Disability, Corporate Risk Management, Albertsons/Safeway
• Dr. Teresa Bartlett, Senior Vice President Medical Quality, Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc.
Mental health is a key component of wellness. It is a state of well-being in which an individual can cope and become a contributor. It includes how someone feels, thinks and acts and helps to determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Ultimately, mental health is about balance, resiliency and the ability to return to normal when something goes wrong. Mental health is also directly associated with performance in the workplace.
• 16% of people in the workplace are depressed and 57% of those
• 14% have chronic fatigue, with 83% untreated.
• 15% suffer from anxiety, with 66% untreated.
• 6% have chronic sleeping problems, with 61% untreated.
Continue reading Impact of Mental Health at the Workplace
Bruce Japsen, Contributor
Telemedicine companies that have been landing a flurry of new contracts with employers and insurers to provide less expensive and more convenient medical consultations with physicians are now adding mental health services for their customers.
MDLive, Teladoc and American Well are among the telehealth firms getting into the business of offering access to psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists via smartphone, tablet and computer as the nation grapples with a rising rate of suicides, opioid addiction and other mental health issues.
The companies see a huge growth opportunity, with more Americans suffering mental health conditions than common medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Meanwhile, less than 50% of Americans who are prescribed medications to treat mental health conditions take them as directed, if at all, according to industry reports and Walgreens Boots Alliance.
Teladoc is among the telemedicine companies pushing into mental health services, offering consultations with therapies, psychiatrists and psychologists via computer, smartphone and tablet. (Teladoc photo)
American Well in July is rolling out a new “telepsychiatry” service it expects to have in seven states by August and the rest of the country by the end of the year.
“Every year, nearly one in four adults will deal with a mental health disorder, yet less than half of these individuals will actually receive treatment,” said Zereana Jess-Huff, vice president of behavioral health at American Well.
Continue reading Telemedicine Companies See Mental Health As Next Frontier