for returning to their job: They want to
get back to their normal routine. Employers should consider whether the employee was engaged socially. Did he or
she have a difficult relationship with a supervisor? How far does the employee live
from work? These and other factors can
be hurdles to bringing an employee back
to work and must be managed because
when the employee is back on the job, the
medical spend decreases significantly.
Employers have historically taken an
adversarial approach to Workers’ Compensation, but the law is on the employee’s
side; benefits tend to be skewed in their
favor. Strategically, the better approach is
to engage an employee, set expectations
and avoid making it adversarial.
Kent Martin is a freelance writer in St.
Louis. During a career in communications
that spans more than three decades,
Kent has written extensively on a variety
of topics, from the impact of healthcare
trends on various industries to disaster
planning for financial services.
useful for monitoring a house for activity.
Rural areas can be especially dangerous
for surveillance workers, but video cameras will safely capture outdoor activities
that can be used in a hearing.
Monitoring drug spends
Controlling drug costs is vital to managing spending. Having analytics in place to
intervene early when prescription drug
overuse is detected can prevent a case
from heading into a costly spiral.
Pokorney said it is no exaggeration
that there is a national epidemic regarding certain drugs in the U.S. He said 99
percent of the hydrocodone supply, the
active ingredient in Vicodin, is consumed
in the U.S. Almost 10 years ago, pharmacy was about 6 percent of overall medical
cost in Workers’ Compensation. Today,
statistics show it has soared to nearly 20
percent, of which narcotics comprise approximately 35 percent. If not managed
appropriately, it can grow out of control.
Overutilization can occur when patients take drugs to combat other drugs.
For example, a worker suffers a minor
back injury while on the job. After taking
an anti-inflammatory drug, most workers return to their jobs with no issues.
Another worker, however, may start on a
lower strength narcotic before moving on
to OxyContin. The patient starts with one
doctor and goes back for a stronger drug.
If the doctor doesn’t give workers what
they want, they’ll seek a second doctor or
go to the emergency room.
In these cases, it is important for the
employer to adopt a holistic approach by
looking at the psychological part as well
as the social aspect of the claim. Sometimes, dependence on certain narcotics
is exacerbated by a spouse who is sharing
the drugs. Better case management up-front can determine how easily costs and
clinical outcomes are handled.
Bell added there is significant value in
an employee’s successful reentry because
it has a major impact on indemnity payments as well as on the medical part of
Employees also have a social purpose
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