Occupational Therapy Can Be Worth The Expensive Costs
Most Occupational Therapy programs provide a great return to work technique.
Many years ago when I was “riding” a WC claims desk, a file in New Hampshire had a type of provider I had not seen before in my career. The physical therapist referred an injured employee to an Occupational Therapist.
I had thought this was just more physical therapy. Reviewing the Occupation Therapist notes created a few surprises. Some of the tasks were grabbing steel balls off a simulated conveyor belt and stacking these small blocks of wood into pre-cut patterns.
This seemed to be a large unnecessary cost to the file. I denied the bill upfront. The conversation I had with the OT was tense, but enlightening. After going through the complete Occupational Therapy plan for the injured employee, it was obvious that this type of therapy was valid and justified payment.
The Department of Labor has a great webpage on Occupational Therapists. OT’s usually perform these tasks:
- Observe patients doing tasks, ask the patient questions, and review the patient’s medical history
- Use the observations, answers, and medical history to evaluate the patient’s condition and needs
- Establish a treatment plan for patients, laying out the types of activities and specific goals to be accomplished
- Help people with various disabilities with different tasks, such as helping an older person with poor memory use a computer, or leading an autistic child in play activities
- Demonstrate exercises that can help relieve pain for people with chronic conditions, such as joint stretches for arthritis sufferers
- Evaluate a patient’s home or workplace and identify how it can be better suited to the patient’s health needs
- Educate a patient’s family and employer about how to accommodate and care for the patient
- Recommend special equipment, such as wheelchairs and eating aids, and instruct patients how to use that equipment
- Assess and record patients’ activities and progress for evaluating clients, for billing, and for reporting to physicians and other healthcare providers
- The injured employee from New Hampshire with a saw cut injury to his hand returned to work after being out of work for 4 months on modified duty that became his full time job. In my humble opinion, the OT plan should be read by any personnel (adjusters, supervisors, auditors, etc.) involved in the file.
The return on investment on the file was 8 to 1 when looking at the reserve reduction versus the amount the OT charged for her services. OT has become more popular and understood over the years. Sometimes, the adjuster may have to bring up referring the injured employee to OT.
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