Provider Pulse
December 12, 2018

Demystifying the return to work process

New provider resources enable safe, swift return to work by supporting awareness and communication 

Research proves employees who do not return to work expediently after a work-related injury run a greater risk of not returning to work at all, and of not making a full recovery. That’s why Pinnacol’s Return to Work (RTW) team recently partnered with our Provider Educator to create new resources that aid in communication between involved parties and awareness of the broad array of options available for modified duty. 

Why return to work? 

Returning injured workers to work safely and quickly benefits workers by keeping them engaged in their work life and minimizing financial disruptions and anxiety. Employers benefit through mitigated workplace injury costs, less business disruption, as well as greater employee loyalty and a culture of safety. Providers can expect to see increasing patient satisfaction related to improved outcomes. 

New resources demystify return to work 

Consistent and clear communication between involved parties is critical to success, but that communication can be challenging for a variety of reasons, including reluctance and lack of understanding among those involved.  

“For this reason, we’ve developed new, additional resources that further improve communication between everyone involved,” said Sally Parkinson, a Return to Work consultant at Pinnacol. “There’s a communication loop, and we want to keep it strong, open and ongoing.”

These new resources include:

  • A  document that encourages providers and patients to talk to employers about modified duties and to contact Pinnacol’s RTW team for assistance. 
  • A document that shows employers how to contact providers with questions about work restrictions, treatment plans and safely returning injured employees to modified duties. 

“Our Return to Work consultants are showcasing these new resources when they meet with providers [in conjunction with Pinnacol’s Provider Relations specialists] and employers,” Parkinson said. “After visits, providers can share feedback through an emailed survey. We’re also sharing preplanned modified duty lists for various industries, which are helpful to providers and employers alike.”

Pinnacol’s preplanned modified duty lists help providers and employers identify job tasks an injured worker can perform during recovery. Modified duty, which may include revised tasks, limited work hours, or modified work conditions or workspaces, is often integral to safely and quickly returning an injured employee to work.

Outreach welcome by provider community

The preplanned modified duty lists and personal visits are welcomed by physicians and the physical therapists who are so integral to patients’ recovery.
“Sally and [Provider Relations specialist] Patricia Castillo came out to meet with us, and this doesn’t typically happen with other insurers,” said Ellen Price, D.O., medical director of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Family Health West in Fruita, Colorado. “Their visit was invaluable.”

“A month ago, I spoke with an employer in the long-term care industry,” continued Dr. Price. “I was treating an injured employee who didn’t realize that restricted work was available. My direct conversation with the company clarified this, and my patient happily and safely returned to modified duty. Communication is so vital.”

By increasing the awareness of these Pinnacol resources, physicians and physical therapists can assist with referrals so injured workers and employers can focus on a safe, swift return to productive, full lives.

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