Amid the unprecedented circumstances of a global pandemic, supporting injured employees so they can continue to receive care and focus on recovery presents new challenges. In addition to the typical concerns associated with work-related illness and injury, COVID-19 has spurred employee fears over other pressing questions, such as:
- How will I get the care I need?
- Will I be able to receive needed medication and treatments?
- Will my benefits be impacted?
- Will I fully recover from this injury?
- Will I be able to return to my job at the end of this?
Claims teams have vital roles in helping to ease increased feelings of uncertainty, says Carolyn Turpin,
“It’s critical to recognize that this kind of upheaval has been a highly sensitive area for injured workers,” she says. “In order to ease worries and help workers through, it’s imperative to emphasize that recovery is more than return-to-work – it’s about their emotional well-being, too.”
Current events spotlight the value of the injured-worker advocacy approach, where blending support and innovation helps personalize a positive plan for recovery. Here are three reasons why advocacy efforts are a mainstay of successful claims management right now.
“It’s critical to recognize that this kind of upheaval has been a highly sensitive area for injured workers.”
1. Encouraging engagement and anticipating needs builds trust
As the pandemic began, causing a shift to remote work, some injured workers worried about how interactions with claims specialists might change.
For example, most injured workers typically receive their claims payments by mail – a practice that could be disrupted due to the pandemic. To mitigate those concerns, claims teams contacted injured workers to check-in, validate their circumstances, and present other options, such as activating electronic payments or home prescription delivery, Turpin explains. For employees, that proactive outreach fostered peace of mind in two ways:
- Benefits would be quickly received without delay; and
- Positive experiences at the outset strengthened the employer relationship.
2. Empathizing with workers’ unique situations promotes well-being
As a result of COVID-19, many injured workers are managing more than their injuries and recoveries. “Some families are struggling to balance childcare and work. Others are home schooling or caring for ill loved ones,” explains Turpin.
With the pandemic leaving more people feeling isolated and stressed, it’s never been more critical to approach workplace injury-related absences with an empathetic point of view, she says.
That’s why thinking outside the box about what might help an injured worker – both physically and emotionally – takes on new meaning in today’s environment. What should claims specialists do to recognize, respond, and reassure? Put workers’ overall well-being first by:
- Simplifying procedures and expediting processes wherever possible;
- Engaging in the most convenient ways; and
3. Navigating care solutions prioritizes progress towards recovery
As many clinicians and medical facilities continue to limit the number of patients they can see for routine appointments and non-emergency treatments, injured employees may face access-to-care issues. In lieu of in-person care, the use of telemedicine and tele-rehabilitation services can be a valuable alternative to treat minor injuries and provide virtual physical therapy.
While such technologies aren’t new to workers compensation, the pandemic dramatically spurred their use as a claims-management strategy. “As part of the claims management process, it’s vital for injured workers to continue their care and work towards recovery,” says Turpin. “And when many parts of the country were shut down, telemedicine helped to keep these critical services going during the pandemic.”
“Thinking outside the box about what might help an injured worker – both physically and emotionally – takes on new meaning in today’s environment.”
Ensuring a foundation of advocacy
At Liberty Mutual, two of our core values are “put people first” and “act responsibly.” These principles lead our injured-worker advocacy approach to workers compensation management. Learn more about our approach to claims here.
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