Service Spotlight

Workers’ Comp Patient Transportation

In this Q&A, the VP of one workers’ comp service provider shares how to soothe a common pain point for injured workers: Getting to appointments on time.
By: | February 5, 2018 • 6 min read

Traditional transportation services meant to deliver injured workers to and from medical appointments may be at best inefficient, and at worst, antiquated. Both injured workers and payers want more control and transparency while also saving time and money.

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Historically, third party providers are limited in flexibility. In this Q&A, Linda Colsen, vice president and national product leader at One Call, shares how the industry can soothe transportation pain points.

R&I: What’s wrong with traditional transportation in workers’ comp?

First and foremost is time, particularly when there has been an issue with a missed appointment. Odds are, you don’t learn about a missed appointment until well after it has been missed. The process to reschedule an appointment in itself can be a headache. When adding in the time factor, an injured worker could be looking at days or in some cases, weeks later than the original appointment.

The second factor is the cost. In the perfect scenario, you need two drivers: one to take the injured worker to their appointment and the second to take them home. Until recently, however, there

Linda Colsen, vice president and national product leader, One Call

hasn’t been an effective solution to send a second driver to retrieve the injured worker from their appointment and transport them back to work or home. With traditional third-party transportation providers, payers end up spending a lot of dollars on wait time, which means paying a driver to sit in the parking lot while the injured worker is at their appointment.

Lastly is visibility, and specifically, a lack of visibility —knowing if the injured worker got picked up on time, if they overslept, if they’re on their way to the appointment and if they arrived on time.

R&I: How do these transportation challenges impact outcomes?

Without real-time visibility, delayed transportation may mean missed appointments, which means the injured worker doesn’t get the care they need. Rescheduling the appointment and another ride creates more logistical challenges for claims staff, case managers, injured workers and healthcare providers. Ultimately, missed appointments mean slower recovery and more stress for injured workers and higher costs for workers’ compensation payers. Transportation troubles leads to costly and subpar outcomes for everyone involved.

R&I: What can the industry do about it?

Technology has given us real-time, on-demand ride hailing services. For the average consumer, they offer more convenience and comfort for significantly less than a traditional cab. A real-time ride request reduces downtime because it can use drivers who are nearby. It also allows users to track their driver and cancel or reschedule a ride easily as well as log their ride history. We asked ourselves, ‘Why can’t we use this in workers’ comp?’

One Call decided to leverage this technology with the creation of RelayRIDE, which may be used for any injured worker needing transportation to medical appointments. Real-time visibility enabled by the RelayRIDE technology means the One Call team can monitor ‘live’ trips in progress and take steps to mitigate issues, such as driver cancellations, by quickly scheduling the trip with another driver. This active trip monitoring means injured workers receive the treatment they need quickly, which may result in a shorter claim life.

R&I: How does it work?

We partnered with Lyft in August 2016, originally utilizing their services to handle the more difficult, rush cases.

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Over the course of the partnership, we have developed our proprietary web-based application, which connects directly to Lyft through an open application programming interface (API). This allows One Call to seamlessly utilize RelayRIDE to fulfill ambulatory transportation referrals if the request is in a Lyft coverage area.

Once a ride has been scheduled, One Call initiates a series of text messages to inform the injured worker of their transportation arrangements. They provide details about their upcoming ride such as driver identification, vehicle information and ride tracking. These text messages also enable injured workers to request a return ride with the press of a button on their phone. Wait time charges are eliminated for rides fulfilled through RelayRIDE as each leg of the trip is handled independently. At the end of their ride, they are able to provide instant feedback by rating their ride experience and driver.

One Call has a team dedicated to monitor rides in real-time through RelayRIDE. Through this active monitoring, our team is alerted to potential issues and can be proactive in addressing transportation issues that historically resulted in missed appointments. We will immediately notify the medical provider if an injured worker is a “no show” or if a late arrival is anticipated, which ultimately reduces the administrative burden on our customers’ to make multiple follow-up calls.

One Call decided to leverage this technology with the creation of RelayRIDE, which may be used for any injured worker needing transportation to medical appointments. Real-time visibility enabled by the RelayRIDE technology means the One Call team can monitor ‘live’ trips in progress and take steps to mitigate issues, such as driver cancellations, by quickly scheduling the trip with another driver. This active trip monitoring means injured workers receive the treatment they need quickly, which may result in a shorter claim life.

R&I: Have you seen any benefits from this program yet?

Lyft drivers have provided more than 100,000 “rush” rides this year. These are rides for non-emergent ambulatory appointments.

For us, visibility and transparency are the biggest benefits. Claims managers and nurses can see active rides and ride history through the web portal. They know right away if a driver didn’t show or is delayed. They can act immediately to either arrange a new ride or to reschedule the appointment. They’ll know if a patient missed an appointment and can reach out to them sooner rather than later. It removes some decision-making steps for the patient and cuts out some of the cost and liability of using a traditional transportation service.

R&I: What are other key benefits of using a modern ride-sharing service?

By helping patients keep their scheduled appointments, it can prevent expensive emergency room visits. The system can also track appointment history and mileage for reimbursement purposes. The transparency and accountability components may also reduce likelihood of fraud.

R&I: What about from the patient’s perspective?

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Approximately 98 percent of American adults have internet access. This program is reaching patients where they are at that moment and creating a seamless experience for them; they can request, track, or cancel a ride and see their history through the online dashboard. If they don’t want to log on and schedule a ride themselves, they can text “N” to our dispatchers who will send a driver for them.

The program will also send text reminders to patients 20 minutes before their driver is set to arrive, so they can be ready to go.

R&I: Are there other ways that technology can address challenges in worker’ comp?

Live video conferencing is increasingly playing a role in workers’ comp. Most of the conversation is centered on telemedicine —connecting doctors and patients when in-office visits aren’t feasible. But we’re applying video consultation to a different challenge: language barriers. Patients with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) may struggle to communicate with their medical provider, and if they can’t understand their treatment plan they are far less likely to stay engaged in their recovery.

RelayTRANSLATE is our technology-enabled video interpretation solution that is part of a broader program we’re developing called RelaySOLUTIONS, which also includes RelayRIDE. Through RelayTRANSLATE, the injured worker can request on-demand interpretation in their chosen native language, and the platform will connect them with a live person who can interpret for them via video. This is absolutely critical to achieve better outcomes for patients. &

Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.

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That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.

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Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]