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In the 30+ years I’ve been around the workers’ comp industry, there hasn’t been anything truly disruptive, until now.

Telemedicine, telerehab, teletriage are just three of the ways technology will enable remote delivery of services to injured workers and other key participants in the injury recovery process.

The implications are broad and deep, as are the challenges.

The implications are robust; Faster access to care. Quicker determination of compensability, causation, and relatedness.  Deeper understanding of psycho-social factors. Stronger rapport with employer and patient. Instant access to information for adjusters and case managers. Better tracking of patient compliance with physical therapy and home exercise.

The challenges are many: Do patients and providers have the necessary technology. Are connections secure. Do laws and rules allow for/support/enable tele-everything. How and who will get paid how much for what. What jobs are at stake. How will service providers adapt to tele-everything, and can they.

And this isn’t touching the implications implicit in the adoption and use of Artificial Intelligence, which will revolutionize most of what is done in our industry.

We’ll focus on tele-everything this week, with interviews with several of the early adopters.



4 thoughts on “Tele-everything”

  1. Disintermediation is the great financial opportunity for this system, which is burdened with far too much administrative cost.
    This will also remove the negative impacts on the quality of care imposed by a bureaucratic layer that has no medical training and so introduces barriers to good care. Ideally, payment will become much more closely linked to health outcomes. A healthcare system that actually seeks to buy good health!
    Quicker care that makes the correct diagnosis at the first encounter is also possible… I have made 25 different diagnoses in patients presenting with acute low back pain. Treatment is very different for kidney stone, malingering, muscle strain, fact joint sprain, sacroiliac joint sprain, lumbar disc herniation, and cancer; MUCH better outcomes if you start down the right treatment path within hours of the injury. Algorithms can make us all smarter in figuring this out.
    And, “death of distance” opportunities abound as well. Can see people every day for the first week if they don’t have to drive and sit in a waiting room. Each encounter allows refinements of the care.
    Buckle up!

  2. Great post, Joe.

    Although it is a ubiquitous description, the term “tele” is an unfortunate holdover from the last couple of decades.

    I would submit that more descriptive term for what is happening now would be “virtual” or perhaps “digital.”

    We are witnessing exponential growth in remote healthcare delivery and monitoring technologies which are less and less associated with what we identify with as the functionality of a simple “telephone.” I’d love to see us drop the term “telemedicine” the same way that we once dropped “horseless carriage” from use in our description of early automobiles.

  3. I agree this is far more than “tele” anything. It is digital or virtual care. It is advancing as it should. However, there are still more questions than answers as you indicate Joe. From a rehab providers perspective I can only see it as being an adjunct to treatment or access for those in very rural settings. Perhaps it is just my lack of creativity and entrenched thinking but delivering what we do in the clinic while face to face with an injured worker cannot be fully replaced with a virtual intervention.

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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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