5 Trends That Could Effect Workers Compensation
2019 is slated to bring many changes to the Workers’ Compensation industry. These changes are being implemented for a variety of reasons, including fluctuations in healthcare costs, advances in technology changing how Workers’ Compensation providers can better serve injured workers, and the opioid epidemic. Below are a few of the most prominent trends set to change how injured workers and their employers use Workers’ Compensation in 2019 and beyond.
A drug formulary is a list of prescription drugs that healthcare providers use to determine which drugs provide the greatest value. These lists include brand-name and generic drugs. Pennsylvania is one of a few states whose lawmakers studied the value of creating a drug formulary in 2017, but did not implement it with this year’s laws. Rather, it will likely revisit the idea in 2018.
New Pain Management Strategies
Research has shown that patients benefit from a whole-person approach to pain management. This is also known as a biopsychosocial approach. With this type of approach, a patient might receive behavioral therapy alongside physical therapy to treat every aspect of their injury, which could include reduced range of motion and strength loss, as well as emotional trauma following their accident.
A few ways Workers’ Compensation providers are adapting to this approach is by covering treatment methods like yoga, meditation, and acupuncture. As more states continue to legalize marijuana for medical use, this, too, could become part of modern Workers’ Compensation packages.
In many of the states where Workers’ Compensation reform is taking place, treatment guidelines are being implemented alongside drug formularies. Together, these changes can positively impact prescribing behaviors and lead to more effective treatment for patients.
Treatment guidelines provide outlines for healthcare providers to follow. They can include prescription limits, such as guidelines that set a maximum amount of opioid pills a doctor may prescribe or that a pharmacy can disburse to a patient. This may serve as part of the ongoing effort to curb opioid addictions.
A few states are implementing new Workers’ Compensation laws in 2018 to update their existing laws. Among these states are Pennsylvania, Florida and California.
Debates surrounding Workers’ Compensation changes will likely also come up in other states. One example is Illinois, where the current governor is seeking re-election, and must contend with a Democrat-controlled legislature.
In some states, the changes are not new laws, but challenges to old laws and revisions based on the unconstitutionality of existing laws. Pennsylvania is one of these states. In 2017, a portion of Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation law was found unconstitutional by the state supreme court. This ruling means reform is necessary.
Increased Automation of Claims
Using online reporting and other forms of automation can help injured workers receive benefits in a more streamlined, timely manner. Bringing Workers’ Compensation claims online can also help providers make use of patients’ electronic health records and relevant data to deliver appropriate, personalized treatment.