No one wants a musculoskeletal-related workplace injury to occur. Despite this, injuries do happen, and they happen often. And when an employee does get injured, there is an obligation to do right by that person and provide quality care. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the reality. Often, the employee enters a system that delivers a one-size-fits-all care approach that doesn’t benefit the individual.
Employers’ top medical expense is often MSK-related. With the high cost and high prevalence, one would assume that employers are dialed into the best end-to-end care solutions for their workers. However, this isn’t often the case.
Employers who want to invest in better MSK care must look at the bigger picture. An individual’s care plan needs to consider all the factors that are proven to improve their recovery time. Simply put, a workers’ compensation injury requires more than a predetermined number of physical therapy (PT) sessions. It requires a “physical therapy first” solution that steers patients to the right providers who can deliver high-value care, ensuring proper diagnosis and optimal treatment.
However, to supplement that care, employers must look for partners that take a holistic and integrated approach to MSK care delivery for their employees. Better yet—to look for solutions that offer individualized, hybrid healthcare—care that is omnichannel and addresses the episodic and longitudinal employee needs.
Injured workers deserve a frictionless experience that keeps them engaged throughout recovery. They should be cared for in a way that ensures they’re ready to return to full duty without the fear of reinjury. They need to be treated by therapy providers who know what optimal care and recovery look like for them. Unfortunately, this approach to injury management is often missing or inaccessible for the everyday worker.
Here’s what an ideal MSK care delivery system should look like:
- An omnichannel mix of in-person PT and digital tools that fully support the injured worker from home.
- The ability to leverage whole-person recovery data and compliance tracking to optimize individual treatment throughout the case.
- Clinical oversight based on known workers’ compensation rehabilitation best practices.
- Dashboard information that is shared with all stakeholders so quality care is tracked, measured, monitored and achieved.
The critical link to recovery: holistic physical therapy
The right PT network is one of the most important decisions an employer can make to affect their workers’ outcomes. Working with a PT network that understands the importance of whole-person, hybrid care is key to offering the recovery workers deserve.
Physical therapy is a hands-on form of healthcare. Still, thanks to technological advances, we can now take a hybrid approach where the injured worker gets in-person care but also does supplementary exercises and other recovery activities at home.
Holistic PT leverages technology and other tools to track treatment progress. This empowers injury management that can be individualized and optimized based on each injured worker’s comorbidities, overall health and job demands. This approach keeps injured workers engaged throughout treatment and adapts to their specific needs and recovery pace.
See also: Workers' Comp: Back to the Future
What’s at stake?
In an ideal world, employers would see their worker through the lens of that individual and their family. Their health and well-being are vital. We must offer them the most tailored, customer-centric care—like we’d want our loved ones to have.
When employers fail to see the injured worker as an individual, they fail that person’s recovery and hinder their organization's goals. Choosing the right high-value PT network with the right knowledge and tools to navigate MSK injuries in the workplace makes all the difference. After all, managing a workers’ comp case is more complex than traditional commercial health PT. There are more stakeholders and more regulations. These differences are rarely taught in school, so it is up to the therapy provider to educate themselves or join a network that guides and educates them through the workers’ comp process.
When we align all stakeholders involved in an injured worker’s recovery with greater collaboration, there is less friction. Less friction brings better outcomes.
As information is transparently and seamlessly shared throughout a case, workers’ comp stakeholders become empowered to make the best decisions throughout the treatment process instead of waiting until the end of the claim.
This is our vision for the future of MSK.