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Do Injured Workers Prefer Outpatient Therapy at Work or In Clinic?

Posted by Julian Alexander on May 09, 2016

Do Injured Workers Prefer Outpatient Therapy at Work or In Clinic? http://www.onsite-physio.com/workplace-wellness-programs/do-injured-workers-prefer-outpatient-therapy-at-work-or-in-clinic @onsitephysioWhat if your injured workers could receive outpatient therapy at work instead of at a clinic? A growing number of employers in many industries are choosing this option for their injured workers. Physical therapy at work is proven to be faster. It’s also more effective. And that is saving employers millions of dollars. But what do injured workers themselves think of this option?

What’s Not to Like?

Injured workers want to get back to their job as soon as possible. They see outpatient therapy at work as an opportunity to do that. An option that eases their path to healing.

  • They can receive treatment in familiar surroundings. That makes them feel more comfortable. All they have to do is go to work. Their physical therapist meets them there. They use a designated space at the jobsite for the treatment session. The physical therapist can see first-hand what the worker does at his job. They can see the entire working environment.

Knowing that, they can provide job-specific therapy. They can also teach your employee how to “work smarter” and more safely in the future. That reduces risk of re-injury. No worker wants to be hurt again.

  • It’s more convenient. The physical therapist schedules treatment sessions directly with your employee. Your injured worker agrees to a plan that works for you and for them, not some clinic. There are no delays in getting started. The result is better compliance. Better compliance leads to healing in fewer sessions.
  • It’s more personal. Injured workers don’t have to compete with anyone for their therapist’s attention. At a clinic, physical therapists are often distracted. They have to juggle multiple patients at once. So your injured worker gets only partial value from each session. That means they need more treatments to recover. They are out of work longer.

Onsite physical therapy is private. Your employee doesn’t have an audience of other patients. There are no distractions. They work with their physical therapist one-on-one for the entire session. That builds trust and a strong recovery partnership. It all adds up to more effective therapy.

The chance to receive outpatient therapy at work improves job satisfaction. Injured workers recover faster. And they return to work confident they can stay safe in the future. With all these benefits, it’s easy to see why injured workers prefer outpatient therapy at work.

Who Cares What Injured Workers Prefer?

The Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI)says attitude affects results. “Among injured workers who had ongoing follow-up care after their initial treatment, satisfaction with interpersonal and technical aspects of care and with care coordination [is] strongly and positively associated with overall treatment experience.”

Injured workers who have a negative recovery experience are out of work longer. They are “3.54 times more likely to still be receiving time-loss compensation for inability to work due to injury 6-12 months after filing a claim.” That makes ability to return to productive work is a valid metric for employers. Improving return-to-work rates improves the quality of your workers’ claim resolutions.

The WCRI has also concluded that trust in the workplace is an “important predictor” of workers’ comp claim outcomes. Many injured workers say they are afraid they will be fired or laid off. Researchers suggest some of that fear could be due to:

  • A pre-existing negative relationship with the employer
  • An over-active imagination on the part of the worker (perhaps reflected by their previous job performance)
  • A poor recovery outcome. They say “poor outcomes color the worker’s view of most events in the course of the claim. Conversely, workers who have experienced excellent outcomes tend to see events in the course of handling the claim in a much more positive fashion.”

“Trust is a key to controlling workers’ comp costs,” according to Rebecca Shafer. Shafer is an attorney. She advises employers on ways to control workers’ compensation costs. She recommends, “Employers must assure employees that they are a valuable member of the team and will not be discriminated against or lose their job during the recovery process.”

Onsite physical therapy helps keep injured workers engaged with their at-work team. Their supervisor or the workers’ comp director can stop by a therapy session. They can help celebrate their employee’s recovery progress. And they can personally encourage them to keep going.

Rebecca Shafer also notes that ongoing communication is crucial to build trust with injured workers. She recommends that employers meet with injured workers once a week. You can discuss any challenges your injured worker is facing. And you can discuss return-to-work strategy. As he recovers, your injured worker may be able to return to light duty. What could be easier or more convenient than meeting right before or after an at-work treatment session?

Employers Also Prefer Outpatient Therapy at Work

As an employer, you want to reduce workers’ comp claims and costs. You also want to improve job satisfaction. Offering physical therapy at work does that:

  • It is easier to monitor compliance and progress. You can check in with your injured worker during their therapy session. You can chat with their physical therapist without waiting for a report.
  • You can save money on treatment-related travel. On average, injured workers spend one and a half hours traveling to and from each treatment session. The cost adds up fast.
  • Employees who are hurt on the job can return to work sooner. And let’s face it. You’re just as anxious about this as your employee. Onsite therapy requires just 9.5 treatments on average. Compare that to a 16-state average of 17.1 treatments. More injured workers return to work, too – 95% with onsite therapy compared to 70% with clinic-based therapy.
  • Onsite therapy reduces repeat injuries -- a mere 3% instead of 18%. Just imagine the savings with fewer future workers’ comp claims.
  • Onsite therapy keeps injured workers engaged with your company as they recover. When they feel connected to their job, they are more motivated. They want to return to work. And they want to get there sooner.

You and your injured workers have the same goal – a speedy return to work. Onsite physical therapy makes that possible. You can save money. You can boost job satisfaction. That improves retention rates. And it reduces overall hiring costs. Everybody benefits. No wonder outpatient therapy at work is everyone’s preference.Hurt maid on ground who needs help to get back to work faster.

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