At the RIMS 2016 Annual Conference, Kimberly George, Senior Vice President of Sedgwick and Scott Daniels, Director of Disability for Comcast, discussed a proactive approach to managing mental and behavioral health in the workplace. The discussion focused on how Comcast deals with these issues. Comcast has a very diverse workforce owning a cable company, multiple television networks, and even theme parks.
Behavioral health claims not only impact your employees directly, but they also can have a significant impact on your business. According to a recent study by IBI, four of the top six employment related concerns of employers was related to the health of their workforce. The study also found that mental health was the second highest duration of disability diagnosis for their short-term disability programs.
Comcast has had 1300-1600 behavioral health claims per year, paying out millions of dollars in benefits in this area. One area of concern for them is that 60% of those treating were not being seen by licensed behavioral health experts. Instead they were treating with general practitioners who lacked the expertise needed to adequately address the issues. Comcast is trying to focus on being an advocate for their workers on health issues, and part of that includes assisting them in being treated by the appropriate medical providers.
Comcast’s program is currently focused on the group benefits side. They hope to someday expanded it to workers’ compensation. If an employee has a behavioral health diagnosis, they are required to treat with a practioner specifically licensed in that area. They do not direct to specific providers but instead work with the employee to help them identify providers in the network. Their EAP program comes into play as the employee can receive a certain number of behavioral health visits under this at no cost to the worker. The program has been in place less than a year, but they are already seeing significant decreases in duration of disability for behavioral health claims.
There is hope that this program can have a positive impact on workers’ compensation claims as well. Under the EAP program, they can provide the behavioral health treatment outside the workers’ compensation claim to help address the psycho-social issues that could have an impact on the claim. This approach recognizes that you must treat the whole person to effectively manage workers’ compensation claims and you cannot ignore psycho-social issues that may be impacting the case.
One of the first resources they tapped into in developing their program was their EAP provider. They offer a variety of resources to the workforce, not just in the area of behavioral health but also with a variety of lifestyle issues. The EAP was being underutilized before this program started but their change in focus including helping the employees to fully understand the benefits under their EAP and take advantage of these benefits.
Resilience is a also very important issue that can impact both disabilty and workers’ compensation claims. Comcast is working with a vendor partner to assist employees in developing coping skills and being more resilient. They feel that by strengthening the resilience of their workforce they can significantly reduce all disability in the workplace.
Comcast is also using more telehealth which is yielding positive results. It makes it easier for the employees to receive medical care in a timely manner. This has been especially useful with regard to behavioral therapy.
They are also hoping that their focus on getting the employee the proper care will decrease relapse in disability. Often times relaps is driven by the employee not receiving the appropriate treatment.
The overall focus at Comcast is establishing a culture of health for their workforce. They want their employees to engage in their healthcare experience and become educated consumers. The hope is this culture will ultimately lead to healthier employees which will result in fewer disability and workers’ compensation claims.