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Inconsistent paperwork, not knowing who to call or what to do at time of injury, and poor penmanship are workers’ compensation nightmares of the past. What was once an endless trail of paperwork, incorrect information and confusion is now a simple and worry-free telephone service called nurse triage. Nurse triage is a process where a third-party professional interviews an injured employee on the jobsite, typically within minutes of injury. The professional is a trained nurse that assesses the severity of the injury and recommends an initial path of treatment, such as self-care, or for more serious injuries, directions to a clinic or hospital.

Because every call is recorded and fully available (a key differentiator among vendors), it locks down the story with the best possible documentation and helps get employees back to work faster. Nurse triage is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It has become one of the most-used platforms for immediate medical communication across various industries like construction, manufacturing, senior living and hospitality. These industries trend higher in workers’ compensation claims and have a disperse workforce with multiple shifts. 

Helping make the case for nurse triage is a recent study by the National Academy of Social Insurance. It found more than 70% of all workplace injuries do not need clinical intervention. As a result, there has been $42.07 billion in wasted expenses and a total of $60.2 billion in paid benefits. Construction companies can use nurse triage to help eliminate unnecessary medical treatment by an injured employee, thereby reducing the severity and frequency of workers’ compensation claims. Through this service, employers typically lower claims by 15-20% and reduce costs by 25-30%. 

Additional benefits for construction companies include: 

  • reduces both direct and indirect costs;
  • provides a quick, easy and cost-efficient way to immediately report workplace injuries;
  • demonstrates a clear focus on employee health and safety;
  • lowers experience mods;
  • reduces litigation;
  • avoids unnecessary doctor and emergency room visits;
  • helps employees return to work more quickly;
  • utilizes preferred provider networks;
  • provides employers with notice of injury within minutes;
  • generates incident and injury data so employers can focus on safety and injury prevention;
  • removes language barriers;
  • records calls for case documentation, quality assurance, fraud deterrence and defense; and
  • provides each organization with appropriate forms if the employee can carry out light duties or less physically demanding tasks while recovering. 

Employees can also benefit in the following ways:

  • more targeted healthcare;
  • trained registered nurses;
  • bilingual capabilities;
  • independent medical reviews;
  • collaboration and involvement from the supervisor in decisions;
  • 24/7 call-back access; and
  • immediate communication.
Understanding the Process Once an Employee Is Injured on the Jobsite 

Step 1: Time of injury. An employee or supervisor calls the 24/7 injury hotline provided at time of injury. There is a registered nurse on standby to speak to the injured employee.

Step 2: The call. The RN will ask for:

  • first name, last name and SSN;
  • incident description;
  • medical history;
  • injury; and
  • pain level.

The RN will then advise on the next medical steps to take, whether that means scheduling an appointment with an in-network doctor, going to an urgent care center or using over-the-counter remedies, etc. 

Step 3: Post-call. The call is recorded from the very beginning which helps in any legal or insurance claim situation to follow. The employee’s claims department will then receive information from the incident including:

  • verification of employment;
  • first report of injury;
  • incident report;
  • carrier notice; and
  • OSHA.

To ensure the best return on investment when implementing nurse triage, here are a few do’s and don’ts:

  • Don’t be misinformed. Make sure employees understand when to call the telemedicine hotline, when to go straight to the emergency room and when to perform self-care. 
  • Do allow the nurse triage company to refer a medical provider. Not only will they refer someone that is in-network, but employees will also be directed to a provider that delivers a positive patient experience. 
  • Do designate individuals on the worksite as first responders when it comes to knowing how to contact the nurse triage hotline. Allow those employees to train each individual before starting the job. 

One last ‘do’ would be to put nurse triage at the top of the list for any risk management program enhancements. The benefits for both employees and the construction company far outweigh the cost of the service. 

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