Walls & Ceilings says “Silicon Valley is high on the future of construction technology.” What they mean is that investors are rolling money into cloud collaboration platforms and mobile on-the-job apps, to the tune of $10 billion between 2011 and 2017 spent on construction technology alone. From drones to 3-D imaging, construction companies are benefiting from their own version of “digital transformation.”
The next wave of digital tech in construction will be a marriage between the safety net of workers compensation, and telehealth. Telehealth technology brings the doctor, nurse, physical therapist, or another clinician immediately to the job site in the event of an injury incident. It’s going to revolutionize workers compensation, and potentially save construction firms a bucket loader of cash. Here’s how it will all work.
The Value of Telemedicine
Telehealth is a digital technology that uses the Internet to create a virtual house call of sorts, bringing a clinician to the patient wherever they are. It can reduce the number of unnecessary and costly ER visits while increasing patient convenience. In 2018, more than seven million telehealth visits will be conducted in healthcare. From primary care visits to remote monitoring of elderly patients, telehealth offers improved access to care while cutting the cost of delivering it
There is perhaps no better new market to apply telehealth than in the construction industry, where workers compensation claims are increasing in direct correlation with premiums. The National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) reported that $61.9 billion in claims were paid in 2015 to 135.6 million workers. That was a 7% jump from 2011. During that same time period, construction firms carried nearly 4% of their overhead on workers compensation and that number is certainly rising. Slips, falls, and trips were the most common claim type, and the statistics show us that older, more experienced workers are most at risk. The impact of our aging workforce is obvious; workers compensation rates and claims will continue to rise.
Last year, a study of workers compensation executives said that 45% believe telehealth technology holds the key to reducing workers compensation costs for the insurers and their construction industry clients.
Understanding the Impact of Telehealth in Construction
“Telemedicine has the potential to be another tool in the claims adjuster’s toolbox, which might help contain costs and improve outcomes in workers compensation.”
The effect of telehealth on the workers’ compensation insurance industry could be nothing short of transformative. Telemedicine service offers the immediacy of a virtual consultation on the job site by smartphone or tablet. This visit could happen when and where the injury occurred. Think about that for a second. A clinician could provide on-the-spot care that could mitigate the standard visit to the ER, while also documenting the site for the claims submission process. Vital signs could be taken remotely and rehab could even be conducted on-site.
How much solid work-time does the typical construction firm lose when employees travel to the doctor or physical therapists office? This time could be reclaimed with the ability to dial-in a doctor from a smartphone app. Triaging an injured worker could be invaluable both for the documentation and decision-making process. Telehealth could be used in the following kinds of scenarios:
- For overnight projects, a telehealth app could prevent an emergency room trip for non-urgent injuries.
- On remote job sites, a telehealth doctor could help mitigate the risk where there are no nearby healthcare facilities.
- Post-operative care, including physical therapy, could be provided via a telehealth visit. These visits could even occur on the job site, in a trailer set aside for the purpose.
- Job safety texts or video could be transmitted electronically to construction teams to help promote a safety-first construction site mentality.
Video visits can also be helpful for worker wellness programs that seek to monitor long-term chronic conditions as diverse as lower back pain to obesity or diabetes. These type of programs have been shown to improve the quality of life for patients and they could have real value for construction firms interested in wellness as an employee benefit.
Six Reasons to Consider OrthoLive for Workers Compensation
Telemedicine is set to transform occupational health medicine and workers compensation by providing injured workers with an alternative to the ER visit. OrthoLive offers a workers compensation management telehealth application that integrates well with both pre- and post-claims. Construction firms seek out the service with six clear benefits in mind:
- Telehealth helps with worker safety and prevention of job site injury. This has a direct impact on the bottom line, both in the reduction of claims and lowered premiums. However, it is just as important to note that after a certain percentage of OSHA reportable events, companies are no longer able to bid on projects.
- Telehealth cuts down on OSHA reportable events.
OSHA reportable events occur with prescriptions for ibuprofen, but not for over-the-counter ibuprofen, which can be provided during a telehealth visit. It also should be noted that OSHA reportable events occur when the injured worker is sent to physical therapy. If PT exercises are provided via telehealth, it is typically not a reportable event.
- Telehealth brings PT to the patient, cutting down on time away from work.
A great deal of time is lost to travel. Telehealth brings the clinician to your worker.
- Telehealth provides more accurate treatment of on-the-job injuries.
Self-insured companies can benefit from a “first aid” approach to injuries, providing immediate triage by a qualified clinician over a knee-jerk run to the emergency room.
- Telehealth brings the virtual clinician to your job site.
The OrthoLive telehealth app provides an immediate first aid approach for non-emergent injuries. The service also provides a roaming Athletic Trainer model that allows for in-person visits and virtual doctor visits.
- Telehealth is immediately responsive to your needs.
Our virtual doctor visits can give employers the work note that they need immediately.
OrthoLive offers an affordable option to supplement your job-site safety teams. The cost savings are real; we have documented a 300% savings over the traditional response to workers compensation claims.
Talk with your OrthoLive team about the reduction in overhead costs we can help your construction firm achieve.
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