Clear Communications: Keeping Everyone in the Loop

By Eric Becker | 11/02/2015

Consistently Providing Information - Structured and Managed Communication Processes 

Maintaining a structured and managed communication process is an essential element of a leading Occupational Healthcare program. In the complex industry of worker’s compensation, keeping all key constituents informed on the status of an injured worker to the extent allowed by law*  is an absolute necessity. Managing claims can be even more challenging in organizations with a dispersed workforce. Employers should be able to receive timely updates throughout each step of the injury care process. Patient status and return-to-work information needs to be shared not just with managers or supervisors but also with any third party payor to facilitate an efficient claims management process. All information approved for release, either by regulatory guidelines or by patient authorization, should be provided to the appropriate receiver in a consistent and timely fashion. 

In addition to the component of real-time reporting, the ability to communicate and have direct access to clinicians is also crucial. A clinician should communicate with an employer throughout the return-to-work process to provide updates and treatment plan details. Frequent communication also helps to relay any concerns about prognosis or case progression that might occur in the return-to-work process. Having direct clinician access and access to critical return-to-work data will improve management of the overall Workers’ Compensation program. 

The best programs should provide employers with a customized communication plan that meets the needs of all parties. Clients should have access to web-based or secured e-mail status reports which can be viewed at times of your choosing. These reports should also provide consistent data points to monitor trends, as well as quick and easy access to clinicians to explain those data points. Verbal and electronic communication will help you coordinate cases so that all parties−employees, employers, and payers− can manage cases seamlessly. Quick, easy access to information also helps increase workforce productivity.   

Clinical Informatics – Analyzing Data to Drive Positive Outcomes

A leading Occupational Healthcare program should be able to utilize these consistent data points in an analytical process called Clinical Informatics. A dedicated team tracks, categorizes, and analyzes the data from each patient visit to monitor for trends and compare to outcomes across the nation. Any identified trends create opportunity for Concentra to establish evidence based practices, designed to increase our effectiveness in treating occupational injuries. This also allows the employer to receive accurate injury and treatment information, specific to their employees, to compare to national benchmarks. It also allows clinicians to look for ways to improve their own practice patterns and improve effectiveness in treatments and outcomes.

Clinical Informatics can capture and analyze outcome data that is specific to any segment of the company, such as injury care under Workers’ Compensation. Internally, the information is also used to ensure that providers are adhering to best practice patterns. The analysis of this information allows an opportunity for individual clinicians to participate in ongoing quality improvement and adjust their practice as the analysis determines what elements deliver the strongest and fastest opportunity for employee recovery. Externally, the aggregated information should be shared with employers and payers so they can understand how their organization’s outcomes match up against industry standards. Similarly, utilization data that includes injury type, body type, return-to-work status, referral status, physical therapy and Rx status, case duration and costs can help an employer identify higher risk areas, and perhaps intervene to reduce the frequency of specific types of employee injuries.   

Conclusion 

As a leader in occupational medicine, Concentra maintains a dedicated team to manage a data warehouse that currently holds more than 7 million records. Each year our data analytics experts review more than 600,000 injuries and 15 million procedures to analyze our effectiveness and compare outcomes against national benchmarks. Every visit, in each location, is tracked and reviewed for outcomes, patterns, and opportunities for quality improvement. Once a trend is identified, Concentra assures our clinicians are trained on the newest and most-successful treatment methods to reduce the amount of outliers. This helps ensure that we are practicing the most current forms of evidence-based medicine, and serving the patient’s own need for returning to normalized activity once it is safe to do so. 

In addition to the reports from our Clinical Informatics team, you will have direct access to the team of clinicians who are treating your injured employees. Our clinical staff will provide timely status and treatment plan details and updates, and will communicate with you when challenges regarding return to work occur. This level of communication truly sets Concentra apart as an industry leader in Occupational Medicine. Having consistent communication, direct clinician access, and critical return-to-work data are just a few ways that we at Concentra demonstrate our commitment to assisting employers in the management of an overall Worker’s Compensation program.

Reference

*Many states have laws regulating the manner and extent of communication regarding patient care.  Concentra strives to provide the fullest communication under applicable laws to maximize employer information while protecting patients’ rights.  The communications as described here may be altered to adhere to these laws.