COVID-19 is one the biggest health crisis our country - and the world - has ever had to face. In the US, we have one of the highest number of confirmed cases, and according to researchers, we are not out of the woods just yet. The virus has had a big impact on the workers' compensation industry. Work Comp professionals find handling cases in the pandemic era more challenging than ever, and it’s not always due to the actual injury of the worker. But what are the main challenges adjusters and Nurse Case Managers face?
One thing that is a common problem in the processing of a claim are various delays. Factors include the government-imposed restrictions, such as shutting down non-essential businesses, social distancing, etc. Of course, the goal of these limitations is to flatten the curve and stop the spread of the virus, nevertheless, it can significantly prolong the processing time of a work comp case. Another factor is of course the physicians’ limited availability - some practices had to shut down or drastically reduce the number of treated patients, others work in a modified system, or switch to telemedicine appointments only, which may not be suitable for some types of injuries. On average, a pre-existing case that would normally cause the employee a 12-day absence from work can stretch up to 14 weeks1.
Lori Ilgenfritz from Gallagher Bassett is proposing solutions to help move claims along. They include telemedicine (in an effort to minimize the worker’s and the doctor’s exposure to the virus and reduce waiting time), virtual physical therapy, leveraging workers’ “essential” status and reviewing medical records (IMEs). To find out more about these solutions, click here to read Lori’s full article.
Although the COVID-19 crisis may seem far from over, eventually we will go back to normal, or rather adapt to the ‘new normal’. There are of course precautions we can all take to help speed our country’s recovery process. The easiest way to do that is to follow the health department’s guidelines: practice social distancing, wear a protective mask, and be m ore mindful when interacting with others. Remember to wash your hands often and sanitize when in public. Stay safe and keep others safe by practicing these simple rules.