Telemedicine and telehealth services are making headway in providing benefits in Workers’ Compensation with innovative new programs that help employees obtain quick, convenient care, and the ability to potentially prevent more serious problems down the road. Telemedicine is the use of electronic communication technologies to improve the patient’s health status by connecting him or her with a health care provider who need not be at the same location. The information exchange might take place via phone calls, video chats or email, on tablets, smart phones, or other wireless tools. Telehealth may involve a nurse, pharmacist, or any health professional.
In fact, many Workers’ Compensation claims administrators and managed care companies currently provide telemedicine services including 24/7 nurse triage and prescription drug reviews.
Some of the benefits of using telemedicine for workplace injuries for employees, employers and payors include cost savings, better access to care, immediate triaging of injuries and faster claims closings, and greater employee satisfaction. In addition, telemedicine eliminates the drive time and office wait time for employees and others who may need to take them to appointments. With the technology and ancillary devices that are currently available, doctors can take blood pressure, complete an electrocardiogram and do various other tests remotely. With the advent of electronic records, physicians often find themselves documenting symptoms and treatment information on their computers during office visits with patients, a task that would be exactly the same with the use of telemedicine. Also, employees working in remote locations could still seek treatment guidance via telemedicine.
How does telemedicine work for on-the-job injuries?
Telemedicine can be integrated with the nurse triage process, particularly for minor injuries. A telemedicine video consultant, for example, would confirm whether a wound required stitches or assess the level of care needed for a minor burn. The nurse walks an employee through a series of questions to determine whether a video consultation is appropriate. In essence, depending on the type and extent of injury, the nurse may recommend self-care, referral to a clinic, or emergency room care. Telemedicine also has the potential to provide follow-up care, including post-op visits.
There are several critical elements necessary to support good telemedicine outcomes and quality care – and they apply to both online and office visits. A key part of the process is managing logistics to ensure shorter wait times, provider availability, etc. It is also important to use occupational medicine physicians with proven, quality outcomes, and to connect with an experienced Workers’ Compensation network to support billing efficiency and provider management. In addition, to assure patient and data privacy, managed care technology must be protected under the laws established by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
It’s important to note that each state has different telemedicine policies and that the types of services covered, provider requirements, and reimbursements differ for each, as does medical licensure. Some states require physicians to have a special telemedicine license, for example.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan provides Workers’ Compensation solutions for a broad range of industries along with risk management services to help stem losses and provide better outcomes when injuries occur. For more information about our programs, please contact us at 877.226.1027.
Source: WorkersComp Wire