WCRI Surveyed Injured Workers from Four States; Here’s What It Found

A new report from WCRI surveyed workers about their experiences post-injury.
By: | February 10, 2020

When it comes to worker outcomes, who better to survey than injured workers themselves? 

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While analyzing data on how many injured employees eventually return to work post injury may give you some sense of claims outcomes, it doesn’t capture a critical element: Are workers satisfied with the care they receive? 

Worker satisfaction encompasses a variety of factors that can’t always be measured by traditional markers of a successful program. Workers, for example, could have a poor experience with the workers’ compensation system if they don’t have access to the provider or treatments they want even if they end up returning to work in a timely manner.   

To examine this issue, the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) turned to surveying injured workers in a variety of states. They released four state reports that compare outcomes of injured workers in Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida and Georgia with outcomes in 11 other states. 

The reports are part of an ongoing effort by WCRI to examine data on the outcomes and medical care injured workers receive in different states. 

How They Compared Worker Outcomes 

The research focused on five major areas: recovery of physical health and functioning, return-to-work, earnings recovery, access to medical care and satisfaction with medical care. 

To examine these areas, researchers interviewed workers who had experienced a workplace injury. They then compared the answers they received across states. 

Previously studied states include Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.

“By examining outcomes of injured workers, policymakers and other stakeholders can better understand how different state workers’ compensation systems compare in order to identify and prioritize opportunities to improve system performance,” Ramona Tanabe, WCRI’s executive vice president and counsel, said in a press release. 

The study didn’t just focus on typical measures of a successful claim, like return-to-work and return-to-health, however. They also looked at factors that contribute to a workers’ satisfaction with their care, such as their ability to use their first choice provider.  

By the Numbers

For the most part, worker outcomes in Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida and Georgia were similar to those in the 11 other states WCRI has studied so far. Here are some notable statistics from the report:

  • Overall, workers from Connecticut were the most satisfied with the quality of their care with 83% reporting they were “somewhat” or “very satisfied” with their workers’ compensation care.  Only 11% said they were “very dissatisfied” with their care, which was lower than the median state in their analysis.
  • Comparatively, 19% of workers in Georgia reported that they had “big problems” getting the services that they or their provider wanted and 17% of workers reported “big problems” getting the primary provider they wanted. These factors can play a major role in a workers’ satisfaction with their care. 
  • When it comes to wages, 8% of workers in Arkansas reported earning “a lot less” at the time of the interview compared with the time of the injury. This was similar to the value of the median state. 
  • Return-to-work statistics from the four states also closely aligned with those in the median states. In Florida for example, 16% of workers with more than seven days of lost time reported never returning to work for at least a one-month period, compared to 14% in the median state
  • Twenty percent of Florida workers reported no substantial return-to-work within one year of the injury. In the median state, this figure was 17%

Recommended Reading

Trust is key to any successful workers’ compensation claim and can be a major factor in a workers’ satisfaction with their claims outcome.

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Here’s why trust is such a crucial element for workers’ compensation managers. 

Successful return-to-work begins with successful medical care and management. Remember to consider these vital medical factors while developing your return-to-work program. 

At the end of the day, workers’ will be more satisfied with programs that not only get them back to work, but also ones that do so in a way that protects their best interests. A culture of worker advocacy can help bridge these outcomes. &  

Courtney DuChene is a staff writer at Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]

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