The end of one year and start of another is a great time to assess the work we do and see how we can improve things going forward. One of my professional New Year’s resolutions is to look for ways to better serve the people we work with, especially injured workers and their employers.
It’s easy to become complacent when things are going pretty well. Change is hard, so we may look at the systems we’ve had in place for years and think, ‘why shake things up when nothing is really broken.’
But is ‘pretty well’ good enough? Are we truly doing the best we can to prevent injuries, to help workers who do get injured get back to function and work just a little sooner, and to create more efficiencies to help reduce costs for our companies? The old solutions may still work, but newer models may save time, money and the health of workers.
Better PT Results
One of the changes we’ve seen in physical therapy over the last few years is the ability to provide treatment to injured workers as soon after an injury as possible, in whatever location works best for them and their employers, and to deliver that care one-on-one.
In our company we call this model ‘PT Triage.’ It’s an innovative solution for real-time routing of PT referrals to the treatment environment most likely to produce the best clinical outcomes and fastest return to work; at the work site, at the employee’s home, or in a clinic.
At the root of this system is our firm belief in strong communication channels — with our clients, our therapists and, especially, the injured workers we treat. By keeping everyone in the loop and continuously seeking their input, we find that everyone becomes more engaged in the process — especially the injured worker. Employees who are more involved in their own recoveries heal faster; meaning they are back on the job quicker and with a more positive attitude.
How it Works
Working one-on-one with an injured worker typically requires fewer PT visits. The treatment is focused specifically on that worker and his particular job. That means in addition to treating him for his current injuries, we also show him ways to do his job better to prevent recurrences.
Some injured workers cannot leave their houses for a while. In those instances, we go directly to their homes and, again, work with them one-on-one. Once they are able, we continue the PT at the work site if possible — even if they are not actually working yet. We find that just being at the work place improves morale and still allows us to help the worker do his job with less chance of future injuries.
In some cases, neither the worksite nor the injured worker’s home is practical and a convenient outpatient clinic is the best option to get treatment as quickly as possible. In those cases, we still maintain active management of the injured worker’s care and oversee the claim through completion. We monitor the files and intervene when necessary. And we maintain strong communication with all parties involved.
The goal is the same regardless of the location: getting the injured employee back to work as quickly as possible.
Our PT Triage system works well. But I know we can do even better. We will reevaluate our system and processes to see what changes we can make to provide even better outcomes in 2018. My hope is that you too will use this time to look at your injury management programs and see where adjustments can be made to further increase your successes.