Do you ever feel like you are shooting in the dark when it comes to the return-to-work process for your workers' compensation patients?
Are your recommendations based more on guesswork than on objective data?
Or maybe you’ve disagreed with a return-to-work (RTW) decision on one of your workers' compensation patients but felt powerless to influence the decision?
Physicians typically make a RTW decision without much knowledge of the critical demands of the specific job or the true physical abilities of the employee. You've probably sometimes felt that RTW timing is off, with workers returned to their posts too soon, or held out for too long.
The key: a quick screen is a smart screen. By performing a brief return-to-work screen as part of your discharge evaluation and comparing the results to the patient’s job demands, you’ll be able to clearly and objectively show whether the patient is ready to return to work.
For RTW purposes, ErgoScience recommends simple functional screens, lasting from 30 minutes to an hour, to objectively and accurately answer the all-important question: is this employee ready to get back to work? This smarter, shorter screening is cost-effective and more efficient than a full functional capacity evaluation and doesn’t require a separate physician referral. It can be done as part of your routine discharge evaluation and might be the most valuable part of that assessment for the patient. RTW screens are a valuable quick fix that takes the guesswork out of the RTW dilemma.
How do you put together a RTW screen? It’s easy! For an effective RTW screen you need an objective, evidence-based FCE system and information about the requirements of the job (which you can likely obtain through the case manager or adjuster). A RTW screen is just one of the valuable tools you should get from a high quality FCE system. With a customizable FCE system, you can use parts of the system for post offer screens, RTW screens and objectively determining consistency of effort. Wouldn’t it be great to objectively quantify the effort of your WC patients who seem to exaggerate injuries? Look for an FCE system with consistency of effort built in and you'll have yet another tool at your disposal from a single system.