Author: zach.kohlmeier

Rates & Ranks!

Today’s issue of WorkCompRecap features the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services recent release of the 2016 edition of its Workers’ Compensation Premium Rate Ranking study.

The goal of the study is to examine the relative cost of workers’ compensation across all 50 states plus the District of Columbia for a comparable mix of industries. DCBS noted that the national median index rate in the study declined to an all-time low of $1.84 per $100 of payroll. Index rates in 2016 varied from a low of $0.89 in North Dakota to a high of $3.24 in California. 21 states had an index rate that was within +/- 10% of the benchmark value.

Find out more (including a link to the free report!) by clicking here!

You can read the rest of today’s Top Stories by visiting WorkCompWire.com.

It’s Fall, so

Slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of worker’s compensation claims and are the leading cause of occupational injury for individuals aged 55 years and older. A slip and fall accident occurs when someone slips on a smooth or wet surface or trips on a rough or uneven surface. The most common injuries are to their backs, necks, knees and arms. Slip and fall accidents make up 15% of all worker’s compensation claims with the average cost around $22,000.

A “slip” typically occurs when there is not enough friction or traction between the feet and the walking surface. The most common causes of slips are wet surfaces, ice or other weather hazards, spills, and poor tread on footwear. Many slip & fall accidents can be prevented with precautionary measures that include the following:

  • Wet surfaces: Shorten your stride, walk with feet pointed out slightly, and make wider turns.
  • Spills: Clean up immediately. If you are unfamiliar with the contents of the spill, assume that it is a water or oil based liquid.
  • Weather hazards: Walk slower so you can react to traction changes. Wear slip resistant shoes or boots, and dry off shoes as soon as practical after entering a building (wet shoes on dry floors are as dangerous as dry shoes on wet floors).
  • Poor tread on footwear, or generally poor traction: Wear slip resistant footwear, apply abrasive strips to smooth walking surfaces, post warnings.

A “fall” typically occurs when the foot strikes an object and momentum throws off balance. To minimize the potential for this type of injury:

  • Do not allow carried packages to obstruct your view.
  • Use only safe walkways.
  • Close desk and file drawers when not in use.
  • Report burned out or missing lights.
  • Report any uneven or broken pavement, sidewalks, or handrails.

According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, more than 8.7 million people are injured from slip, trip and fall incidents every year. It is imperative that everyone assess their surroundings, stay alert and pay attention when they walk to ensure they do not have any slip and fall accidents. (click here for a printable copy)

To make a referral for Home Health, DME, or Home Modifications, please visit www.homecareconnect.com or call 855.223.2228.

Prosthetics in Comp

Jan Saunders, CPO
Prosthetics & Orthotics Director
HomeCare Connect

Amputations are the costliest injuries in workers’ comp, according to the 2016 Travelers Injury Impact Report. These injured employees need surgery, hospitalization, medications, home health care, numerous medical providers and prosthetics (artificial limbs). The Amputee Coalition reports five-year prosthetic costs to be as high as $450,000 per person. In workers’ comp, the goal is to avoid unnecessary features and costs, while providing a prosthetic that helps the injured employee return to work and to the lifestyle he or she enjoyed prior to the injury.

New technologies, manufacturing techniques and materials have produced amazing advances in prosthetics over the past 10 years. Fully articulating myoelectric hands, knees with microprocessors, and feet that can get wet are just a few innovations.

An artificial hand with fingers that move independently can help a painter return to work, and with some prosthetic legs, roofers can climb ladders backwards. Rotating wrist units for upper limb amputees enable machinists to return to full duties. Improved technologies mean that more injured employees can regain active life styles, even running, mountain biking and snowboarding.

(click here for entire article)

To make a referral for Home Health, DME, or Home Modifications, please visit www.homecareconnect.com or call 855.223.2228.

Comorbidity Effects Healing and Return to Work

By Dr. Ivan Castro
Medical Director
HomeCare Connect

February is national American Heart Month focused on education, awareness and prevention of heart disease. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2015), Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; affecting one out of four individuals. Heart disease occurs when cholesterol builds up into the bloodstream causing the blood flow to the heart to slow down or become restricted. Factors that contribute to heart disease consist of age, gender, race, family history, smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

As the workforce continues to age and individuals tend to work longer, it is becoming more prevalent that comorbidity diagnosis occurs at or after an initial injury takes place. Comorbidities typically consist of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, depression, insomnia, immune system issues, chronic pulmonary issues, tobacco use, alcohol addiction and drug addiction. A study conducted in November of 2012 by National Council of Compensation Insurers (NCCI), concluded that medical claims costs with comorbidities doubled than those without; average medical claim costs for hypertension was $15,656 compared to $2,490 without a comorbidity. It was also noted from 2000 to 2009 the share of workers’ compensation claims with comorbidity diagnosis nearly tripled from 2.4% to 6.6%.  (click here for entire article)

To make a referral for Home Health, DME, or Home Modifications, please visit www.homecareconnect.com or call 855.223.2228.

Medical Social Work as a Profession in Worker’s Compensation

By Teresa Williams, MSW LCSW
Chief Executive Officer
HomeCare Connect

According to National Association of Social Workers, medical social work is a sub-discipline of the social work profession wherein qualified social workers provide education to patients and their families about a particular illness or injury and counsel them through decisions that need to be made. The goal of the medical social worker (Med.SW) is to remove obstacles, whether in the patient’s surrounding or in mental health issues, so the patient can recover both physically and mentally. Medical social workers assess psychosocial functioning along with environmental and support needs of the patient and family, and intervene as needed.

In worker’s compensation, medical social workers are usually called upon to assist in the recovery process after a serious, sometimes life-threatening injury. Historically, medical social workers provide assistance with discharge planning post-hospitalization after an accident, linking the injured worker to resources that will support the recovery process once discharged. They work on an interdisciplinary team with other medical professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and physical, occupational, speech and recreational therapists. (read the complete article)

To make a referral for Home Health, DME, or Home Modifications, please visit www.homecareconnect.com or call 855.223.2228.

Traumatic Brain Injury (2/2)

By Dr. Ivan Castro
HomeCare Connect
Medical Director

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is caused by an injury to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. An individual with a brain injury has a very unpredictable sequence of recovery as no two TBI’s are identical. There is a wide range of severity when it comes to TBI. Recovering from a traumatic brain injury can be a lifelong journey with the main component of recovery revolving around learning as much as possible about TBI. Transitioning an injured worker with TBI from a hospital/rehabilitation center to home can be exciting as well as overwhelming for the injured worker and their family/caregivers.

When the injured worker and family/caregivers have made the decision to move back to a familiar setting with the ultimate goal of regaining as much physical and mental functions to maximize their recovery process, it is imperative that the discharge planner begin the transition to home weeks in advance to ensure a smooth, seamless transition home. The severity of head injury will determine the necessary resources needed to provide a safe and secure home environment for the injured worker. With the end goal being a greater sense of independence. These resources may consist of home safety evaluation, home modifications, durable medical equipment (DME), and home health inclusive of skilled therapies.  (read the complete article)

To make a referral for Home Health, DME, or Home Modification, please visit www.homecareconnect.com or call 855.223.2228.

Traumatic Brain Injury (1/2)

By Dr. Ivan Castro
HomeCare Connect
Medical Director

With the increase in workers compensation injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is noted as the leading cause of long lasting disability, coma and death.  TBI occurs as a result of head trauma from an external or penetrating force leading to structural and/or psychological brain disruption. Depending on the type of brain injury, the recovery process can take years and in some instances, the injured worker may never recover their motor or cognitive ability. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates in 2010, approximately 2.5 million of TBI cases and 50,000 deaths. Timely treatment is of the essence and any delays in medical treatment can result in costly, long and extensive forms of rehabilitation. (read the complete article)

To make a referral for Home Health, DME, or Home Modification, please visit www.homecareconnect.com or call 855.223.2228.

Tele-Connect

Our telehealth service – Tele-Connect – enables live video interactions among any combination of stakeholders to clarify treatment, expedite claims decisions and speed the delivery of care. Injured workers and their home health providers can confer with our clinicians and other providers to quickly assess new developments and clarify treatment. Claims managers can take virtual tours of the home before, during and after modifications. DME specialists can help injured workers use wheel chairs and other equipment. Plus, sessions are recorded and stored in our CareLink library for future reference.

Clinically Driven

Our business model is clinically driven as opposed to the transaction-based model common in our industry. We know what care needs to be delivered, when and by what type of provider. And our 15,000+ provider network has every level of home health caregiver and most reliable and responsive equipment manufacturers and medical supply companies in the country.

A Clinical Care Coordinator (CCC) stays connected to the claim, throughout the life of the claim. CCCs monitor all aspects of the cases, proactively communicating with the injured worker, adjusters, case managers and employers to ensure care without interruptions or expensive delays.

Speed & Efficiency

Our referral intake call center is open 24/7 and is located in the United States and staffed by our own employees, many of whom are bilingual. (We don’t outsource our call center operations and there are no translation fees.)

Medically savvy intake specialists get the case moving in the right direction, right away. We pride ourselves on responding to referrals within two hours. That’s a two-hour confirmation, compared to the two-to-seven days that many payers have to wait. We get injured employees into the right hands right away and quickly provide claims managers the data they need to guide treatment and set reserves.

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