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Early Rehabilitation – the key to success

By Chris Douglas
Assistant Claims Manager

If you ask anybody working in rehabilitation and health management what the key to achieving effective outcomes is, they'll tell you the same thing: early intervention.


If you ask anybody working in rehabilitation and health management what the key to achieving effective outcomes is, they'll tell you the same thing: early intervention.

Evidence shows that the early intervention approach leads to a quicker return to work, better access to treatment, reduced costs, quicker claims settlements and a healthier population.

QBE's own early intervention service- known as the Minor Injury Management Service (MIMS)- has demonstrated cost savings to one of our policyholders of well over £1 million in the cost of absence over 5 years and has meant that injured employees have returned to work 23% more quickly than would otherwise have been expected.

Why is early intervention so effective?
Early intervention allows for an early rehabilitation assessment. This in turn means any required treatments can start at the earliest opportunity which will maximise the chances of treatment success. It also prevents any deterioration in an employee's condition that can be seen in the case example below.  

The scenario: 
• A 44 year old employee injured his back while working in a heavy manual role.
• Two days after his injury he goes to see his GP and is signed off work. He is told to come back in two weeks if he doesn`t feel any better.
• Over the next two weeks there is no contact with his employer other than his call to tell them he has been signed off.
• No support is offered by his employer and they wait to either receive a further sick note or hear from the employee when he is likely to return.

A worsening picture: 
• The employee sits at home watching TV remaining inactive and sees no improvement in his condition.
• The GP signs him off work for a further period and he is referred for NHS physiotherapy.
• The NHS waiting time is 4 weeks.
• The employee starts to suffer psychologically with depression and begins to have financial worries as his sick pay will stop.

A downward spiral: 
• His back gets worse because he has had little or no advice and is doing the wrong things to help recovery eg sitting all day

QBE's early intervention rehabilitation approach would have helped prevent this by contacting the injured employee within 48 hours of the incident to undertake an initial assessment.

This shows the injured party that he is being supported following his accident by his employers and that potential barriers, such as long NHS waiting times for treatment, which prevent a successful return to work are identified. QBE's rehabilitation service can facilitate early access to treatment, through private healthcare specialists where required. In the example above it would be justifiable to provide private physiotherapy treatment so it could begin earlier and ultimately facilitate a quicker return to work.

As well as providing treatment the rehabilitation provider will liaise with the employer and provide advice on likely return to work dates and assess the potential to return earlier if modified duties/hours are available. Regular contact with the employee prevents any deterioration in his state of mind that would come from psychological issues such as depression and anxiety. It also maintains an open communication channel between employee and employer so relations stay positive.

To find out more about our early intervention approach and cases studies, click on the link below.