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.