By Debra Spamer, vice president of business development of Company Nurse, LLC

Telemedicine – it’s been a buzzword in the workers’ comp industry for years. And now we’re finally seeing it put into practice for workplace injuries.

When workers sustain injuries in the workplace, telemedicine can provide them with convenient care and minimize the impact to their productivity, reducing the costs to your organization.

So, how can you maximize your telemedicine results?

For the best telemedicine outcome, the injured worker needs to be engaged in the injury management process and compliant to care. This is accomplished through a combination of nurse expertise, ease of access to care, expertise in occupational medicine, and a great patient experience.

Nurse Expertise

Utilizing nurse triage at the front end of the telemedicine referral process ensures that injured workers are appropriately referred to telemedicine. Occupational medicine providers, like Concentra Telemed, understand that having the right referrals positively impacts the patient experience.

Not all injuries are appropriate for telemedicine. Some injuries may warrant in-person attention while other injuries don’t need to be seen by a doctor at all. In fact, at Company Nurse, 38% of workplace injuries are addressed with self-care advice; no doctors or visits to medical facilities needed.

So, when can telemedicine be used? Telemedicine is appropriate for 20-30% of non-emergency workplace injuries that need to be treated with more than self-care advice. This includes minor burns, neck strains, and tendonitis.

Triage nurses can identify the severity of these injuries and determine if they can be addressed with telemedicine.

Without the expertise of a nurse, workers might attempt to use telemedicine for injuries that require a different level of medical attention.

When workers with minor injuries that can be addressed with simple self-care advice use a telemedicine physician, they initiate unnecessary claims. Your organization must then spend money and resources to manage these claims.

On the other hand, workers might use telemedicine for injuries that are too severe for the care of a telemedicine physician. These physicians must then make referrals to medical facilities where injured workers can receive attention in-person. Your workers become frustrated that they didn’t receive the appropriate attention and this delay in care time can exacerbate their injuries. Furthermore, your organization faces more costs for additional medical attention.

It’s important to utilize both nurse triage and a telemedicine service that understands the importance of triage. These complementing services can help get your workers to the right care and drive your telemedicine outcomes.

Ease of Access to Care

Not every member of your workforce has the skills or know-how needed to connect with a telemedicine physician on their own.

But with a few simple steps and the guidance of a triage nurse, each injured worker can confidently navigate the telemedicine process.

All they need is access to a computer or smartphone. When a triage nurse identifies a worker’s injury as appropriate for telemedicine, the nurse can make a warm transfer or text the worker a link to connect directly with the telemedicine provider. In addition, the nurse sends the provider the report of injury, so they are prepared to give the injured worker the best possible care.

The telemedicine physician then meets with the injured worker to provide advice, a prescription, and/or a specialty referral.

The process is designed to be simple yet create a flow of communication that allows the injured worker to have a great patient experience and be engaged and compliant in the process.

Expertise in Occupational Medicine

Utilizing both nurse triage and telemedicine services that specialize in occupational medicine means your workers have access to medical professionals that are experts in triaging and treating their injuries.

Not only are these specialists trained to address the injuries your workers are susceptible to in the workplace, but they understand how to get your workers back to work quickly and safely.

For injuries that warrant telemedicine, physicians can report any work restrictions to your injured workers, their supervisors, and your organization. The physician can then recommend follow-up care, which may include continued, convenient telemedicine appointments (telerehab).

This makes it simple for your workers and other stakeholders of your organization to adhere to your workplace injury management process and improve your return-to-work results.

Create a Great Patient Experience to Maximize Your Telemedicine Results

When you utilize nurse triage at the front-end of the telemedicine referral process, you provide your employees with nurse expertise, ease of access to care, and expertise in occupational medicine; creating a great patient experience.

Through this combination, employees will be more engaged in the telemedicine process and compliant to care, maximizing your telemedicine results.

Telemedicine, when used correctly, has several benefits for both your workers and your organization.

Providing your employees with the right telemedicine program will allow them to conveniently and confidently get the care they need. And getting your employees back to work quickly and safely will improve productivity and save your organization from unnecessary costs.

To learn more about the combined benefits of nurse triage and telemedicine, contact us today.