In 2020, United States’ healthcare spending rose to $4.1 trillion. While healthcare costs have historically risen and will continue to, growing costs result in more expensive workers’ comp claims. As a result, healthcare and insurance industries continue to look for ways to make medical care less expensive.
One solution was telemedicine, and amid COVID-19, virtual office visits became a full-brown reality. Now, in the post-pandemic world, doctors and patients have a better perception of telemedicine, and many continue to use it.
It’s no longer abnormal to hold your doctor’s visit on the phone or over a video call.
And although face-to-face care is great, it isn’t crucial to success in a modern society where people socialize on apps and text more than they meet in person.
Injured workers deserve the same level of convenience and accessibility that telemedicine offers, and workers’ comp providers deserve the same benefits of virtual management. One of the best ways to make that a reality is with telephonic case management (TCM).
With TCM, case managers coordinate care and stay in touch with patients via phone, and the benefits speak for themselves.
1. Access to On-Demand Care
It’s much easier to pick up the phone than to meet in person. This level of convenience allows for early intervention after a work injury because the worker can access a care professional and get a diagnosis sooner. It also saves the patient time and money during their care—especially if all they need is some quick advice.
The ability to seek care from home is even more beneficial for workers with debilitating injuries who can’t get around as easily or for those who need to relocate during treatment.
2. Reduced Costs Per Case
Telephonic case management increases efficiency, allowing staff to provide a patient with better care in less time. Thus, TCM also saves care providers and claims workers time and money.
Here are a few ways TCM reduces costs and makes return-to-work faster:
- Less time is wasted waiting in offices.
- Case managers have more time to organize notes and follow up with patients.
- Responding to problems quicker limits the risk of complications and their impact on recovery time.
- Patients can be seen and get questions answered faster, so they are in a better place emotionally and physically.
In one case study, the City of Houston saved more than $7 million throughout three fiscal periods with the help of efficient telephonic case management.
3. Greater Availability of Nurse Case Managers
As TCM lowers the resources spent per case and makes it more convenient to provide care, more injured workers can have a nurse case manager (NCM). Nurse case managers provide better care by ensuring proper scheduling, offering more support, answering patient questions, and spotting potential barriers to healing before they progress.
Even if someone has what seems to be a minor injury, a nurse case manager can make their treatment more efficient and get them back to work faster.
4. Better Patient Education and Preparedness
When an injured worker requires treatment, it’s not uncommon for them to be scared of the treatment itself. While surgeries are naturally fear-inducing, some fears are due to misunderstanding or misinformation.
If a patient’s fear overwhelms them, they might skip or delay treatments.
Telephonic case management makes it easier to follow up with patients who might not be taking their prescriptions or who are about to come in for surgery. Whatever the treatment may be, a case manager can ensure that the patient is adequately informed and prepared—all without having to schedule an in-office appointment.
5. Easier Reporting Between Health Workers and Adjusters
One of the factors that can contribute to worse care or delayed return-to-work is poor communication between the professionals in charge of a patient’s care and claim.
Between nurses, doctors, specialists, claim adjusters, and the patient themself, it’s possible for information to be assumed or lost. Even if all information eventually gets to where it needs to go, it can take much longer than necessary between emails, database systems, etc.
On the other hand, telephonic case management:
- Makes it possible for everyone to hop on one phone call.
- Gives case managers more time to organize and disseminate messages.
- Removes location barriers, so adjusters can use the same nurse case manager repeatedly and build an effective communicative relationship.
6. Makes Language Interpretation More Accessible
English is a second language for a growing number of workers in the United States. The inability to communicate with limited-English proficient workers is one of the major barriers to care in workers’ compensation.
Professional interpretation and translation services solve this barrier and mitigate risk by ensuring that intent and terminology are translated correctly. What does this have to do with TCM?
Well, for many, telephonic interpretation services are more affordable than in-person ones. Additionally, remote interpretation can make it easier to access a broader range of languages and do so immediately—as may be necessary for emergencies.
Telephonic interpretation is easier to work with when you’re already using telephonic case management as it maintains a consistent method of communication.
7. Improved Patient Rapport
Since a scheduled in-person meeting isn’t required for every conversation with TCM, it’s easier for case managers to communicate with their patients more frequently. This means they can check in more often and provide greater support in all the ways a patient needs.
As a result, case managers and their patients develop a better relationship, leaving patients feeling satisfied and better cared for.
Consider the Transition to Telephonic Case Management
While some workers or injuries may require an in-person case manager, it’s worth transitioning to telephonic case management when possible. It can reduce claim costs, improve patient care, and speed up return-to-work timelines.
Now is the best time to try out TCM as people continue to switch to telemedicine. You might even consider integrating TCM and telemedicine to create a smooth patient journey with most care handled conveniently over the phone.