Medical professionals, particularly occupational medicine and physicians on workers’ compensation evaluation and treatment panels are in an ideal position to refer employees to your EAP. Do you know who they are, and do you have an ongoing marketing campaign to reach them and solicit passively their referral of employees to your treatment program. Unfortunately, these physicians like other people suffer from misinformation about how to use the EAP effectively and make referrals. Research into the role of physicians unequivocally shows their effectiveness in motivating alcoholic employees to consider further diagnosis and treatment of addictive disease, reduce the consumption of alcohol, and examine drinking practices. The key is a knowledgeable doc. Consider meeting with occupational medicine physicians in the company or companies you serve, and make sure this includes private physicians in the community chosen by the workers compensation insurer who are part of its examining and treatment panel. Have CME Category 1 credit available and only let a another physician (who is a good friend of your EAP) discuss alcoholism diagnosis and referral. An ASAM doc is ideal. Every EAP should have an ASAM buddy.When injured employees show up to the medical doctor’s office, you can count on these educated doctors giving their patients a closer look. Discuss their role in identifying medical symptoms of alcoholism (or other addictions) and recommending blood work-ups for employees, when appropriate, that include liver function tests that can demonstrate pathologic organ changes due to alcohol consumption. Positive results are powerful tools in encouraging self-diagnosis of alcoholic employees, and opening the window of opportunity that can lead to accepting an EAP referral. Did you know that many late stage alcoholics worry about their liver, despite their denial? Many alcoholics will agree to a liver functions test just to get it off their mind and confirm their belief they aren’t alcoholic—and tell their spouse about it. Positive values on liver function tests mean pathologic organ change. Pathologic organ change is ITSELF diagnostic for addictive disease. You don’t need anything else to corroborate the diagnosis. In my experience, those with a pain in their side are particularly curious. (When I was at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s Occupational Alcoholism Program, we used strategy routinely to identify and refer alcoholic employees in annual examinations. Have fun. This is a very cool EAP utilization improvement strategy.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Many supervisors are not aware of the legal implications for disclosing personal and confidential information to others who do not have a right to know it. Personnel files are confidential. Medical files are confidential. And, of course EAP files are confidential. Which files are governed by the strictest confidentiality laws? You are right if you guessed EAP files. EAP files are governed by federal confidentiality laws in most cases when they manage alcohol and drug abuse related information and receive federal funding indirectly or directly. You would be surprised how many EAPs fall under this ruling. Most EAPs choose to be governed by these stricter laws or should declare that they follow these strict guidelines for managing information. A supervisor who discloses to other employees, or announces without authorization that an employee has gone to the EAP is not guilty of violating a confidentiality law, but reckless and improper discloser of personal information and violating the employee’s privacy. Of course these issues can kill your employee assistance program utilization. Supervisors who blab about employees referred to the EAP are damaging the perception of the EAP as a confidential service. And, they are holding themselves out at risk for a lawsuit for reckless and improper disclosure. Talk about these supervisor risks during supervisors training. It will help everyone -- employees, supervisors, and the EAP.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
You are right if you guessed EAP files. EAP files are governed by federal confidentiality laws when they manage alcohol and drug abuse information and especially if they receive federal funding indirectly or directly. You would be surprised how many EAPs fall under this ruling. EAPs have to use a release for each person. Personnel and medical releases can employee blanket releases for more than one person. It's prohibited with EAP records management.
Most EAPs don't promote these nuances about confidentiality, and they should because doing so will help win more clients. All EAPs should declare that they follow these stricter guidelines for managing information. A supervisor who discloses to other employees, or announces without authorization that an employee has gone to the EAP is guilty not of violating a confidentiality law, but reckless and improper discloser and violating the employee’s privacy.
The Privacy Act protects privacy rights. Personal information and medical records and EAP records are covered by . Supervisors who blab about employees referred to the EAP are damaging the perception of the EAP as a confidential service. And, they are holding themselves out at risk for a lawsuit for reckless and improper disclosure. Talk about these supervisor risks during supervisors training. You can learn about the most comprehensive supervisor training ever produced for EAPs by going here.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Chances are if you don't go visit those posters, they're getting taken down, covered up by other announcements, and at the very least are becoming invisible to potential clients who've seen them 400 times walking past them.
You have to refresh your posters. When I was Division Chief for Occupational Alcoholism Programs overseeing the U.S. Department of Agriculture EAP, I think my staff counted 47 bulletin boards at the headquarters of USDA on Independence Avenue in DC. Bulletin boards were a valuable tool for us in promoting the EAP, but we knew we didn't have a big budget to replace those posters. They were getting old, forgotten, and dog-eared. Our solution was to rotate the posters from one bulletin board to the next. Instantly we had refreshed posters.
So, if you want to keep visibility up, simply assign a number to each of the bulletin boards that you have access to, and then walk from one bulletin board to the next moving the posters at you go 1 to 2, 2 goes to 3, 3 goes to 4, etc. Do this about every four weeks. This will also get you out of the house. Here's a very cool poster I created for you. Use it in good health. It's part of the editable set of posters at EAPtools.com. (Hey...I know it will be tempting to hang it on the wall in your office, but it's for employees!)
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Wellness programs sound great, but when reduced to a survey of popularity, only 17% of employees say they want their employer to get involved in their personal lives.