We have experienced unparalleled development of technologies many of which can enhance the quality of healthcare and the patient’s experience. Evaluation of technology is critical to understanding the potential impact on the Health System and the individual.
COVID-19 has accelerated the utilization of some of the technologies as well as created demands for new technology development. The traditional cost-benefit analysis requires expansion to include elements of the process, effort, and patient preferences. These have led to the use of satisfaction surveys and other measures in the value proposition.
Data and Data Transfer
Access to data and metrics are critical elements to understanding areas of opportunity. The impact of an intervention and Big Data does have promise in informing the Worker’s Compensation and Occupational Health. The power of big data includes its ability to inform healthcare decision-making. Some characteristics of Big Data include the recognition of new data sources like social media, wearable technology and other traditionally overlooked data sources.
Big data can be identified by its size or volume, velocity and variety. While traditional analytics can still be applied, other analytical methods such as machine learning and real-time analysis from predictive models are being applied through new workflows to help manage Workers Compensation claims.
"Real-time analysis of data can help to optimize claim management, interventions, and support personalized care"
How and if we use certain data will depend on how data is shared. Data information and communication technologies include wireless communication used for mobile telephony and Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi and other forms of wireless data transfer have become part of daily life. 5G is considered the base technology for the Internet of Things (IoT), where machines communicate with machines. 5G is intended to be the intersection of communications, from virtual reality to autonomous vehicles to use in robotic surgery.
Telemedicine has expanded during COVID-19 Public Health Emergency because of the need for patients to access care. HIPAA flexibility and Waivers from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has allowed for delivering care safely during a pandemic.
Health care providers are encouraged to adopt and use telehealth as a way to safely provide care to their patients in appropriate situations. We have seen State Industrial Boards and Workers Compensation Commissions mandate coverage for telehealth visits. Earlier this year, Workers Compensation saw an increase in the number of telehealth visits for medical visits and consultations including Independent Medical Exams. Mental health counseling services have also been performed via a telemental health visit.
Health care providers have performed telehealth services using remote communication technologies through their Electronic Medical Record provider platforms such as EPIC as well as other applications that include FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Skype.
A major benefit of using telehealth is to reduce person-to-person contact between health service providers and COVID-19 and reduce the risk of exposure of patients in waiting room areas.
Timely and appropriate care for an injured worker’s needs is important. Delay in care can result in a delay in recovery and ultimately a delay in return to work. Payers should support the use of telehealth as a valuable way of supporting the needs of all patients not just injured workers.
Digital programs can help manage occupational illness and disease. Online applications and digital therapeutics are being developed to increase an individual’s self-efficacy and help workers to be more engaged in their care.
It is important for payers to have a process in place whereby they can evaluate digital therapeutic programs. In addition to a program’s clinical effectiveness, metrics are needed to determinant the program value, outcomes, and user preference for these digital health solutions.
Programs that may apply to worker’s compensation claims include management of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pain management, adherence and compliance with medications, doctor visits, imaging, and laboratory testing. Other programs can help injured workers with depression, anxiety and insomnia.
Injured workers may use a digital health product or program to ensure their recovery is not delayed. These programs have the potential to advance worker health, wellness, function, and productivity. Examples of digital health programs include Sleepio, reSET, and reSET-O
Sleepio is an online sleep improvement program, clinically proven to help users take control of their sleep and feel more energized throughout the day. It uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques which have been shown in numerous clinical trials to help poor sleepers fall asleep faster, stay asleep through the night and wake up feeling more refreshed.
Substance use disorder and opioid use disorder remain an issue for workers and their families. The first is a prescription digital therapeutic (PDT) for substance use disorder and opioid use disorder called reSET and reSET-O, respectively. It is delivered by an application, the PDT reinforces a health care provider’s treatment plan with access to digital cognitive behavioral therapy, anytime, anywhere.
Many recent technological advances in Workers Compensation can assist employers. Innovation will allow us to shed those outdated tools like paper or spreadsheets for data gathering.
Data trends and dashboards trend both lagging and leading indicators to provide a quick and accurate understanding of a company’s safety status.
Automated reports to company managers will save time and improve communication. Predictive modeling and machine learning can help generate Smart Alerts and Notifications for claim handlers to act upon. Such alerts will assist in identifying claim management opportunities as well as task selection.
Big data, telemedicine, and digital therapeutics have the potential to inform and transform the Worker’s Compensation Industry by exploiting innovations related to non-traditional data sources and empowering workers.
Real-time analysis of data can help to optimize claim management, interventions, and support personalized care. Technological advancements will shed light on opportunities and they may identify interactions between environmental, genetic, and behavioral determinants of health.
Advances in data acquisition, data security, privacy protection, data analytic methods will help Occupational Medicine and our management of Worker’s Compensation Claims transform for the better.