Telemedicine as a Workers’ Compensation Cost Reduction Strategy - Ortholive

While costs vary by state, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of June 2020, employer workers’ compensation premiums average $38.20 per hour worked. Considering your premiums are determined in part by the number of OSHA-reportable events and accident history, companies should make every effort to control costs by ensuring worker safety and cutting down on injuries. 

Telemedicine has become an effective way to treat workers that experience an on-the-job injury quickly at the job site. These virtual tools can bring a clinical provider straight to the injured worker almost immediately to triage the problem. Employers have discovered that this immediacy cuts down on unnecessary trips to the ER and on OSHA recordable events. So, how does telemedicine streamline healthcare at the job site and reduce workers’ compensation costs for employers?

Telemedicine for Reducing Workers’ Compensation Costs - Orhtolive

How Can Telemedicine Cut Workers’ Compensation Costs?

The first factor to recognize when considering telemedicine in the workplace is that most injuries that occur are minor. The top three most common causes of injury in the workplace are:

  • 31.4% of all workplace injuries are from overexertion and bodily reaction from excessive physical activity. This could include lifting or pushing too hard or repetitive motion injuries. The most commonly injured body part in these cases is the back.       
  • 26.7% of all workplace injuries are from slips, trips, and falls, whether from a ladder or other structure or on the same level. The most common injuries in these cases are strains, sprains, or muscle/ligament tears.
  • 26.2% of all workplace injuries are from coming into contact with objects or equipment which could include a moving object hitting an employee, falling into something, or perhaps being caught between two stationary objects. These injuries most often result in punctures, cuts, or lacerations.

It’s true that the majority of injuries in the workplace are relatively minor. However, companies that lack an on-site healthcare professional to triage an injury often muster a disproportionate response to the problem. This typically means that the health safety officer ends up driving the injured worker to the emergency room, particularly if the workplace is remote or the incident occurs after normal business hours. 

Severe injury is one thing, but anytime a workplace injury causes days away from work, restricted work, or medical treatment beyond first aid, it becomes an OSHA reportable event. This means that even a minor sprain that enters the ER becomes an OSHA incident when the reality is that many of these injuries can heal on their own with rest and rehabilitation. 

The problem is that employers simply are not equipped to diagnose a worker injury in a way that both protects their employee by providing the appropriate level of healthcare, while also protecting the workplace from exorbitant and wasteful costs. 

This is where telemedicine can help employers reduce costs. Instead of sending every injured worker to the ER, a clinical provider can come to the employee in a virtual visit conducted on a cell phone or tablet. This approach offers a significant cost savings to the employer by preventing unnecessary ER trips leading to OSHA reportable events. But it also provides immediate care to your valuable employee, increasing their satisfaction while offering a better way to receive treatment.

Reduce Workers' Compensation Costs with Telemedicine - Ortholive

What are the Benefits of Establishing Remote Injury Care in Your Business?

Adding remote injury care via telemedicine to your worker safety programs and workers’ compensation care delivery is a win for both employers and their workers. There are three primary benefits to adding a telemedicine triage for workplace injuries:  

  • First, these tools cut unnecessary expenses for both the employer and employee
  • Second, telemedicine provides immediate, appropriate care to a valued employee
  • Third, virtual visits can reduce days away from work

Worker injuries account for a substantial loss in productivity. The Injury Prevention journal says non-fatal workplace injuries in the U.S. costs employers an average of $1,590 and 11 days off work per claim. Consider the typical on-the-job injury workflow. 

  • Employee is injured on the job
  • Safety officer drives employee to ER
  • After waiting for an hour, an ER doctor diagnoses a sprain
  • Employee receives crutches and a referral to a specialist
  • Employee takes sick day to go to orthopedist
  • Employee referred to physical therapy and receives self-care instructions
  • Employee attends physical therapy
  • Employee goes back to orthopedist for return-to-work approval

Each of these workflows requires time spent traveling to a remote clinical providers office. Keep in mind, as soon as the attending ER doctor sees the employee it becomes an OSHA-reportable event. Each of these additional appointments require time away from work because most appointments coincide with regular business hours. Each of these appointments also potentially log costly healthcare claims and run up the employee’s out-of-pocket costs.

Now, consider the OrthoLive Remote Injury Care workflow: 

  • Employee is injured on the job
  • The supervisor or safety officer dials up a telemedicine clinical consult 
  • After a consultation with the orthopedic provider, it’s determined the injury is a sprain
  • The employee receives self-care instructions including ice, elevation, and rest
  • Employee receives a check-in call from the provider to gauge his or her progress and adjust treatment as necessary 

Telemedicine cuts the ER and costly specialist visits, along with time away from work. The employee is more satisfied and the employer cuts costs. This result is typical, particularly if the employee lives and works in a rural area. Traveling to a specialist for follow up appointments can cost your employee in gas, parking, and time off work. As a result, many employees fail to follow through on their scheduled appointments when they start to feel better. This could impact their recovery time, stretching out their healing process longer than if they had continued seeing the specialist. 

Telemedicine literally brings the provider to the patient via their cell phone or other digital device. It’s a smarter way to solve the problem of non-urgent injuries in the workplace without running up worker’s compensation premiums.

Telemedicine is an increasingly important way for companies to cut their workers’ compensation costs. OrthoLive’s Remote Injury Care telemedicine platform is part of the cost reduction strategies of some of the largest employers in the United States. We’d like to show you how Remote Injury Care can provide your business with: 

  • A 75 to 80% reduction in workers’ compensation costs
  • Reduced OSHA recordable events
  • Improved employee morale

Ready to find out more about this effective cost reduction strategy for your company? 

Click here to schedule a demo.

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