Is Workers Comp Telemedicine In The Age of COVID-19 Worth The Time and Money?
After experiencing my first telemedicine (telehealth) appointment today, I decided to see if Workers Comp Telemedicine would be worth the conversion.
I had written about in-home doctor visits for Workers Comp a few years ago.
By the way, my checkup appointment was great – other than the physician running late. A physician running late is understandable in the current shelter-in-place environment. The only requirements were that I check my blood pressure, heart rate, weight, and temperature before the appointment.
A great article was written by GoodRx covered Telemedicine very well. According to the article (find it here) telemedicine:
is not appropriate for emergency situations like a heart attack or stroke, cuts or lacerations, or broken bones that require x-rays, splints, or casts. Anything that requires immediate, hands-on care should be handled in person. However, telemedicine is very useful for simple issues and follow-up consultations.
Three Huge Advantages of Workers Comp Telemedicine
Three big advantages of telehealth appointments quickly came to mind after my remote appointment.
1. Worksite After Return to Work
If an injured employee has returned to work, why remove them from their job site for a follow-up medical appointment? Having an injured employee “return to their injury” plus having to take off work may not be the best risk management/loss control method.
The injured employee (even remote workers) can very easily log into a web portal from anywhere with the smartphone as I did today.
2. Initial Instant Care For Minor Injuries
One of my fellow consultants mentioned to me two weeks ago that Workers Comp Telemedicine firms in Missouri have sprung up at large manufacturers. One of his clients (manufacturing plant) has used telehealth for months.
The injured employee logs into instant access with a Doctor or nurse for injury treatment and recommendations such as coming to a physician’s in-person for further treatment.
Of course, more serious injuries would skip the telehealth login and be seen at a physician’s office. The very serious injuries should always be treated in an Emergency Room.
3. Prescription and Physical Therapy Management
Some of the medical appointments when I was carrying a 250 file load that seemed unnecessary were prescription and physical therapy management appointments. The injured employee must leave the worksite or their home to go to an appointment that could have been handled with a phone call.
Could workers comp telemedicine work for these types of appointments? Yes, they should work most of the time.
Main Drawbacks With Workers Comp Telemedicine
The main hurdle with Workers Comp Telemedicine comes from its physical aspects. Workers’ Compensation injuries create the need for hands-on treatment for neurological, emergency, orthopedic, or other types of treatment.
American ingenuity will figure out how to jump over the physical component of work comp appointments. It is just a matter of time.
The other main drawback would for the malingerers. Let us leave that one alone as that drawback obviously should be a concern.
The final drawback comes from the IT area. You need a good connection for the video. Check out my one favorite trick that will give you 50% more router speed for your Workers Comp telemedicine appointments.
Is Workers Comp Telemedicine Worth It?
Workers Comp telemedicine justifies further discussion and uses if the one main drawback can be overcome in the next few years.
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Telemedicine is now becoming popular. I had a telemedicine appointment today. Will the worker’s compensation industry adopt telemedicine? When will this happen?
Alise, worker’s compensation telemedicine has developed very well for follow up appointments. Many workers’ compensation injuries involve fractures, strains, neurological damage, and other types that may require an in-person physical appointment. Thanks for your question. Another article on telemedicine can be found here.
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