The process of digitization is taking information from the real world and overlaying it with a set of digital perimeters, which allows that information to be put into a system.
This allows for meaningful content to be created for consistent conclusions across large numbers of users.
Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) have gained wide popularity over recent years, but to what extent have Workers’ Compensation reports been digitized in a similar way?
There really hasn’t been a concerted effort to digitize WorkComp by any one group or entity.
There are some impairment reporting softwares out there that will give you the header of the section of the report you’re supposed to fill out. But in these cases, the user is left with a blinking cursor to ask the questions and perform their own physical exam, at their current level of understanding.
We’re talking about guiding the patient and medical provider through a very specific process to make sure reports are as complete and compliant with the law as possible.
Digitization of Workers’ Comp means getting every part of the WorkComp reporting process standardized, using computer technology.
With the rise of cloud computing and centralized and data repositories, the time is now to start this process.
This benefits everyone in the workers’ comp process, but most importantly, it benefits the injured worker. Injured workers get caught in a spiral of inefficiency and errors which draws their cases out much longer than they need to be.
Digitization means faster and more accurate reports; there is currently no penalty for turning in wildly inaccurate reports. Once this process does get digitized any missing information will become blatantly clear.
Has this happened elsewhere? Yes- take a look at the automobile industry. As soon as cars appeared on the market, both new and used, there needed to be a system for determining their value. This guy Les Kelley showed up, of Kelley’s Blue Book– he didn’t have a computer, but he used a specific set of questions that determined how much a car’s value was worth and how much its resell value was. Within a couple of years he took over, his system was an industry standard.
So what does this look like in an Impairment Exam? Let’s have an example:
A QME is doing an exam for a right shoulder injury. The QME took two measurements with the goniometer in all planes of motion. This report gets submitted, and the report is digitized, meaning that someone takes the information and places it into a standardized format to confirm the opinion of the QME. However, what the QME either forgot or wasn’t aware of, is that in upper extremity injuries, you need to measure both the injured and uninjured parts of the body. Therefore half of the functional measurement set is missing, as no measurements were taken on the left shoulder. With digitization the data that’s missing is made extremely clear. This will improve accuracy and consistency in monetizing work injuries.
A study from 2006 found as much as 79% of reviewed reports for the low back were incorrect. Hopefully with the process of digitization this number will significantly decrease. Questions or comments on digitization? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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