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Workers’ comp utilization review – highlights from the First Annual Survey

We’ve recently completed the First Annual Survey of Utilization Review in Workers’ Comp, and some of the results are a bit surprising.

Sponsored by CID Management, there were 118 respondents, both front line and executive staff. While there were some consistent findings, once again it is apparent there are rather more disconnects than one would expect.

  • Execs are one-and-a-half times more likely than the front line to report their UM/UR system is integrated with their other medical management programs (e.g., bill review, networks, pharmacy). Interestingly, this is similar to the differences between executive and front line responses that HSA found in its most recent bill review survey; most executives thought BR was integrated with UM/UR, but most desk folks did not.
  • Execs appear to be more concerned with the execution of the UM/UR guidelines/rules by the state while the folks on the front lines appear to be more concerned with the state’s poor enforcement/accountability of their guidelines.
  • When asked what UR was utilized for, front line staff were more focused on controlling claim costs while management was most focused on delivering the right care at the right time.

Among those respondents using vendors for some or all of their UR work, the average vendor has been in place for five years – however most don’t see much of a barrier to switching vendors. In fact, two-thirds of both groups believe that it is neutral to very easy to make a UM/UR vendor switch. Further yet, approximately a quarter of both the FL and the EXs stated that it would be not hard or very easy to make the switch.

There’s much more detail to the Survey; we’ll be presenting results, and you can get a copy of the Survey Report, at the NWCD Conference in Las Vegas next month.  The presentation and Q&A will be held at CID’s booth; I’ll be posting the schedule next week.


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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates




A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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