Psychosocial screening early in the Return to Work process is critical to understand factors that impact injured workers. These factors play a critical role in the ability of injured or ill workers to recover in a timely way. They also make transitioning back to meaningful work difficult. Clinicians call this the biopsychosocial model of illness.
Biopsychosocial Model of Illness
The model has been thoroughly researched and the statistics are numerous and compelling. First of all, mental illness in general is highly prevalent. One in five Americans suffer from a mental illness each year and the condition is responsible for 62% of missed work days. Of course the stresses of injury/illness exacerbate any pre-existing mental disorders.
As a result, these issues represent the number one barrier to successful claim outcomes, according to Rising Medical Solution’s 2016 benchmarking study. This study also indicated that psychosocial issues drive up medical costs far more than catastrophic injuries, mostly due to delayed recovery.
A Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine article revealed that workers with emotional distress, such as pain catastrophizing and activity avoidance, were seven times less likely than those in a lower-risk group to return to work within three months.
Consequently the early identification and mitigation of psychosocial risks is a priority in every lost-time claim. MyAbilities has a validated screening tool that is easy to use. This tool is built into MyAbilities’ ClaimX return-to-work platform.
Psychosocial Screening Questionnaire
We have adapted and automated a simple 13-question “yellow flag” screening tool which can be administered online. The responses instantly produce a quantified risk score indicating whether the claimant is at high, medium or low risk of psychosocial barriers to timely recovery.
The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly known as the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago), the premier rehabilitation facility in the U.S., has applied the questionnaire successfully. Additionally, Marwan Baliki, PhD., and Rami Jabakhanji, PhD, researchers at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, validated the questionnaire.
The report makes evidence-based recommendations for optimal psychosocial interventions. They are customized based on the pattern of claimant responses in the screening questionnaire.
Supported by Research
Has research confirmed the value of this type of approach to claim management? Yes, without any doubt.
Researchers have completed numerous studies and analysed outcomes. Therapeutic interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy have consistently demonstrated higher rates and shorter durations for Return to Work. Claim costs have been reduced by up to 50%. There is less utilization of medical treatments such as injections, imaging, physical therapy and surgery. ODG, a MyAbilities partner, recommends these treatment approaches.
Summary – The Importance of Psychosocial Screening
In summary, Myabilities offers a comprehensive, automated and proven methodology for the assessment and management of psychosocial comorbidities in the face of occupational or non-occupational claims. The tool identifies higher risk claims and makes recommendations on treatment. Learn more about how we expedite Return to Work here or click the Talk to an Expert button below.