Through the evolution of telehealth, workers’ compensation medical providers are using breakthrough technology to conduct remote medical examinations that can now closely replicate an in-office visit. This session at WCI’s 2018 Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference explored telehealth’s impact on the workers’ compensation system.
The panel included:
- Arlene Guzik, DNP, ARNP-BC, Director of Occupational Medicine, BayCare Urgent Care, BayCare Health System
- Nathan Keith Waldrep, MD, Director of Physician Services, BayCare Urgent Care, BayCare Health System
- Christopher T. Lee, MD, MSPH, Medical Director – Occupational Medicine, BayCare Urgent Care, BayCare Health System
- Warren K. Sponsler, Attorney, Sponsler, Bishop, Koren & Hammer, PA
- Susan Theis, President, Commercial Risk Management, Inc.
Telemedicine is not a new concept. For instance, the telegraph is the first known use of telemedicine during the Civil War. Over the years, technology continues to create new telemedicine opportunities. Until now, telemedicine was a form of face time. Today, however, physicians are able to “touch” patients through use of items like electronic stethoscopes that allow them to transfer health data in real time and immediately assess the patient.
There are several benefits that telemedicine brings to workers’ compensation:
- Telemedicine allows instant assessment of injury at the worksite to determine the level of care needed. It allows for immediate triage.
- Employees are expected to full embrace quicker, more-efficient care options. Telemedicine can be used for collaborative visits between several specialists without having to travel to them, enhancing the patient experience.
- Digital devices are becoming so developed, they now give clinical data that is almost better than what a physician can see in person.
- Employers can experience cost savings through a more-efficient system, often avoiding employee ER and clinic visits and the time/cost associated with those visits.
- Telemedicine allows claims specialists to more-easily communicate and interact with various specialists.
With the many benefits that continue to emerge, it is important to continue to listen to your injured workers. Depending on generation or preference, some employees may not embrace telemedicine and would rather have an in-person visit with medical providers. For patient satisfaction, it is important that employers continue to provide in-person visits as an option.