Workers are experiencing lower medical costs and shorter disability with early physical therapy.
A recent article from Business Insurance shares the results of a study by Workers Compensation Research Institute that shows:
More workers with lower back pain are receiving physical therapy to treat their workplace injuries, and that therapy is leading to shorter durations of disability and lower medical costs.
“It is encouraging to see these results in a formal study. Over 50% of our volume comes from workers’ compensation patients, and we track similar data, and see similar results,” said Scott Jones, PT, Director of Clinical Support and Partner.
Researchers examined 26,000 low-back workers’ compensation claims and found that medical costs for workers with low-back pain who started physical therapy within three days of injury were nearly a quarter lower than for workers who didn’t begin physical therapy for more than 30 days after their injury.
Workers who initiated physical therapy more than 30 days after their injury, compared to those who began PT within 3 days, had a 58% longer duration of temporary disability, and were:
- 46% more likely to receive an opioid
- 47% more likely to receive an MRI
- 29% more likely to receive pain management injections
- 89% more likely to have low-back surgery
Likewise, the duration from date of injury to start of care is one of our most critical statistics. Unfortunately, the average of this important duration statistic is much higher than 30 days, often times it is several months.
Another key statistic we track is the percentage of patients who return to their pre-injury full duty job at the completion of their care.
Our data shows that the sooner the patient initiates physical therapy, the better chance they have to return to full duty work, the best outcome possible.
This saves significant costs associated with disability settlements and avoids the patient having permanent restrictions for the future. The longer the patient is off work, and inactive, the more physically deconditioned they become, and the more likely they are to experience negative emotional and psychological effects as well.
“Since the inception of ARC Physical Therapy+ 17 years ago, tracking outcome data has always been integral in our relationships with our employer customers. It’s at the core of who we are as a Healthy Workplace Provider,” shares Ben Peterson, PT, Chief Operations Officer and Partner.
“Illustrating to our employers how quickly, and how often, we recommend an injured worker back to full-duty work is possibly the most important statistic we have to validate our services.”
However, it is more difficult to quantify the other cost-savings our employer customers will benefit from. They save on items such as:
- Other medical costs
- Disability settlements
The “other” costs often outweigh the cost of therapy.
For employers, physicians, nurse case managers, TPAs, those in the PT network, or anyone else who has a hand in helping the injured worker get back to work, this article points to actions that can help lead toward a healthier bottom line and a healthier team.