Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gold Mining Physician Referrals to the EAP

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 alcoholicand 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.