Thursday, November 12, 2009

"We have an expert on that subject!"

Throughout the year the major media will visit health related subjects that have broad appeal to the public. They will also report on major calamities and news stories like the recent massacre at Fort Hood.

The media needs mental health experts when these events occur. Who do they call? The answer is whoever comes to mind. That could be you if you know what to do, and first step you should take is to believe that they want you instead of the same old warm body that calls them every time.

There is one national managed care organization that hogs the spotlight on these events. They have a well funded pubic relations arm and they consitently show up in the media, the New York Times, ann Washington Post. There is another large corporate EAP that does the same thing. I am amazed at their prowess, but they deserve the attention if no one else is seeking.

Hey, were talking about capitalizing on tragedy here. The Fort Hood massacre was beyond belief horrible, but the media will pursue experts to help the public cope with these events, and it might as well be you. This is especially important because the some organizations have completely misguided ideas about employees assistance programs and they don't have any resistance to sharing the view to match their economic pursuits, regardless of its grander impact on the profession.

You will notice that specific topics appear in the news periodically, but predictably. For example, you can predict that approximately once a year the topic of alcoholism will emerge. It might be a news event on the cause, a new drug to fight cravings, or some other related topic. Many other topics related social problems will emerge in the mass media.

Pay attention. You will see that this is the case. Your local television station is not the "major media" in our definition. We are referring to AP news wires, and other major media outlets that sell news to the major networks, principally ABC, CBS, and NBC. However, pay attention to enormously important local news, specifically news events that relate to a subject about which you are an expert.

Now, here is what you should do: Listen attentively to the news. When you hear news that relates to your field of expertise, immediately fax to the local television stations your biography (a half page) and call the news room to say that you are an expert on that subject, and that you are faxing a bio. This is a great way to get publicity and to get on TV or the radio. And, it will make you instantly visible to your potential clients and EAP customers. (It's also a rush.)

Television and news stations scramble to find experts on subjects when the news hits. You are doing them a big favor.

If it is national news, you will have a few hours to respond because it will take longer for local stations to run "local expert" interviews. And it could be day later. If it is local news, your window of opportunity is much shorter, about an hour. Obviously you need to prepare ahead of time by getting phone and fax numbers, and contacts lined up. Then, wait for the "big one"--well hopefully not THE big one, but you get the idea.

The scramble for an expert kicks into gear quickly. That's you. Be there.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Workers' Comp: Getting the EAP Involved

Most organizations of any appreciable size pay workers' compensation premiums, and for the biggest companies, they are self-insured. Companies want to keep their premiums as low and self-insureds try to reduce their costs, as well.

A CT-EAP (CT=Core Technology) can play a major cost-beneficial role in helping achieve these goals, but it takes education of human resource managers and those who control referrals after injury to pull the EAP into the picture.

This is a utilization improvement link EAPs.

Research supports the argument that empathic contact and support for injured employees received from the organization, plays a role in helping employees return to work more quickly. This saves money, and therefore a rationale exists to include the EAP in the continuum of care after injuries occur. Beyond coordinating the nuts and bolts of medical service and follow-up, figure out how to get your EAP into the care huddle and you will increase your EAP's utilization and influence by offering employees support for issues that nearly always associate themselves with injury and recovery.

Workers' comp claims are higher for addicts—five times that of non-addicted workers-is the commonly cited figure. NIAAA includes this in much of its literature, so there isn’t much argument about its validity. But this only a small piece of the EAP rationale. There is much more that EAPs can do vis-a-vis Workers' Comp.

While there has been solid promotion of EAPs using this alcoholic employee angle as a rationale to promote them, EAPs can also help injured workers no matter what the cause—alcohol, drugs, stress, absent mindedness, back luck, or mental distraction of any kind. After the injury occurs, employees often need support they aren't getting, and the EAP can fill the void.

Unfortunately NIAAA, and many other stakeholder organizations have not promoted EAPs in this way. If they had done so over the past 25 years, EAPs would be in a completely different place in their evolution. They would be household terms, and your mother would still not be calling an EAP an EPA.

Hundreds of property casualty insurers would be acquiring EAPs by now I think if this linkage were more well established. The direct role of EAPs in the workers comp cost-containment fight would have been identified and popularized.

Post-injury, some of the needs employee have to arrange are home health aides, companionship services, shopping assistance, transportation, and an empathic listening ear. Many injured workers need financial counseling and problem-solving for family problems and communication issues. EAPs are particularly adept at arranging the coordination of services or offer emotional support, and it is here they have no occupational match by another profession in the workplace. Few HR managers understand how to quickly obtain the resources above, and even fewer are want to get involved with these issues.

Workers' comp managed care firms can partner with EAPs for the intervention opportunities that exist with worker injuries. But they are not like to take the first step.

Work toward having your HR representatives or managed care companies that process workers' comp claims include EAP literature, the things EAPs can do, and other types of very direct communication with injured workers. Encourage the referral of the injured worker to the EAP for an assessment after the medical crisis and acute care period ends.

You will add points to your utilization rate by way of these referrals and improve your value as a service to employees and the organization's bottom line.