It’s not that claims with psych issues are inherently much more problematic, or difficult, or costly, or “bad”; but they are when these issues aren’t addressed early and effectively. We’ve long understood that – and the industry has invested tens of millions in predictive analytics, modeling, and early identification.
The challenge has been – what to do about those claims?
Friend and colleague Tom Lynch has developed the only network I’m aware of with providers trained in addressing work comp patients’ psychological issues. Tom’s been in the work comp business for about 40 years, so he knows delivering the right care AND ease of use for adjusters are keys to success for any service provider.
Historically, patients with psych issues aren’t identified early, and the “treatment” that is delivered can take months with little demonstrated progress. There are many reasons for this – but on the provider side, a basic issue is few psych providers know anything about workers’ comp, and many patients are treated for months with little evidence of any substantive progress.
Work Comp Psych Net is currently operating in New Jersey, and delivering remarkable outcomes for patients and payers. I caught up with Tom a while ago to hear more about the problem and how Psych Net addresses psychosocial issues. (I have no financial or legal relationship with Tom or any of his businesses, including Psych Net).
WCPN is comprised of over 50 psychologists covering the entire state trained in workers’ comp who understand the unique issues inherent in comp. These providers use a single electronic scheduling and medical record system which streamlines data collection, Quality Assurance, and reporting. Access and ease of use is critical for both providers and claims staff, a requirement long understood but often poorly addressed.
Today, WCPN is contracted with several payers and actively scheduling patients. To date, on average an initial appointment is scheduled within 27 minutes, with initial reports received by the claims adjuster within 5 days of the visit.
Initial results are promising, with 70% of patients back to work on modified duty within 7 sessions and the other 30% back to work after 11 sessions.
Unlike the typical “let’s get as big a discount as we can” reimbursement model, WCPN’s financial value lies in resolving the claims quickly and for the long term.
“We are asking providers to do more but in a lot less time” is how Tom put it. While WCPN’s per-visit fees may be higher than the deep discount model there are far fewer sessions. “We commit to complete treatment within 12 sessions unless extraordinary issues are presented, then we have to present information to the adjuster as to why it needs to go longer.”
What does this mean for you?
Early identification of patients with psych issues + treatment by work-comp trained providers = much better results for patients – and way lower costs for employers.