Three cost-saving benefits of worksite physical therapy

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 27, 2017 4:21:26 PM / by Deborah Lechner

As the opioid epidemic continues to widen in the United States, it’s important to recognize there are steps employers can take to help curb new cases. In a recent blog we discuss how addressing the underlying cause of pain or injury with first aid and physical therapy, rather than simply treating the symptoms with opioids, is not only a more effective treatment method for the injured worker, it’s also one that avoids the considerable risks associated with their use.

Worksite physical therapy is a recommendation we often make to address workplace pains and injuries. While that might sound like a major expense, a worksite clinic can in fact be a major cost saver.

1. The fewer barriers the better – The fewer barriers to treatment, the more likely an employee is to address the pain or injury they have experienced on the job. One of the main barriers to physical therapy treatment can be the need for a physician’s referral. In order to be eligible for an insurance reimbursement – even if your state allows direct access – a patient is required to get a physician’s referral. If the employer has a worksite PT clinic, or pays the clinic directly for PT, then the payment issue for direct access is resolved.  

2. The sooner, the better Research shows that if a patient is referred to a physical therapist for treatment within the first two weeks following their injury, overall health care costs are lower and subsequent health care utilization is reduced.

The research included a follow-up with study participants 18 months after treatment ended.  The findings were striking: patients who received early treatment from a physical therapist had fewer subsequent surgeries, physician visits, opioid use and advanced imaging than those who waited longer or did not. The study shows the overall health care savings for those patients receiving early PT treatment were, on average, $2,736.23.

3. Better to be at work than out of work – There is significantly less time out of work for employees who can attend therapy at work than those who must travel to an offsite clinic. Not only is organizational productivity positively impacted, but so is the bottom line. If an employee must travel 30 minutes to an appointment that lasts an hour, and then travel 30 minutes back to the worksite, that’s two hours of lost pay for the worker and the same or worse for the employer (worse because the absence of one worker impacts his colleagues’ productivity, too). That can add up. Fast.

If you’re an employer who wants to make a meaningful contribution to reducing America’s burgeoning problem with opioid addiction, providing your employees with an onsite clinic to actually treat what ails them can be a step in the right direction. Contact ErgoScience to find out how to get started with an onsite physical therapy program.

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Topics: Workplace Wellness

Deborah Lechner

Written by Deborah Lechner

Deborah Lechner, ErgoScience President, combines an extensive research background with 25-plus years of clinical experience. Under her leadership, ErgoScience continues to use the science of work to improve workplace safety, productivity and profitability.