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It's Time to Digitize Your Return to Work Workflow

No matter your industry or where your business is located, workplace injuries are a reality that you need to be—and are required to be—ready to handle. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 2.8 million workplace injuries and illnesses in 2019, unchanged from 2018. This means 2.8 injuries per 100 full-time employees, usually requiring 5 to 14 days missed.

Though every business hopes they never have to handle a workplace injury, they need to be ready to help their employees get the medical care, treatment, and support they need to return to productive roles as quickly as their condition allows. That’s where a return to work (RTW) program comes in, helping to manage the requirements, care, and duties of affected employees.

Manual Return to Work Processes Require Maximum Effort

During the RTW process, five different parties are involved:  

  1. The employee manager, who wants to ensure they properly follow all procedures and help their employee
  2. The physician, who wants to ensure the employee is getting the medical care they need
  3. The insurance adjuster, who wants to keep the overall cost of injury down  
  4. Workers’ compensation (WC) team, who are there to investigate any workers compensation claims
  5. The employee, who wants to get well and return to work

The entire return to work process starts when the employee is treated at a healthcare facility. Without digitized processes, the WC team receives manual communication from the healthcare provider or the insurance adjuster stating that a claim has started.

The WC team talks to the physician to identify any recommended restrictions and forwards the information to the employee’s manager to see if alternate duty or modified duty is possible. If the manager agrees to accommodation, the employee is notified, an agreement is drafted then signed, and the RTW program begins.

The program continues through more evaluations to determine when and if the employee can return to full duty, or if there is a disability, whether it’s temporary or permanent. When the physician makes their recommendation to either have the employee return to work, go on temporary disability, or go on full disability, the RTW process is finished. During this entire process, all parties must stay informed of any communications. 

Just thinking about the manual process involved in return to work is exhausting! Imagine digitizing and automating the majority of the RTW process—making it easier, more efficient, and streamlined ...

How an Automated Return to Work Program Makes Life Easier for Everyone

Instead of sorting through tons of emails and manual processes, using automation and digitization makes the RTW process faster and easier for everyone involved. We’ve broken down what to expect.

What does an automated RTW workflow look like?

Going from manual to a completely customized, digitized, automated RTW workflow looks much more streamlined than manual processes. Instead of what seems like endless emails, manual forms, and phone calls, an automated RTW workflow includes:

  • Standardized initial claim forms that make getting started easier
  • Triggerable actions, notifications, and reminders to prevent bottlenecks
  • Digitized and secured records and document storage so all information stays confidential and compliant
  • Accessibility anytime, anywhere—online or offline—to make it easy for all parties involved to get what they need

What are the benefits of using an automated return to work program?

Anyone who has experience with a manual RTW program has probably dreamed of how much easier things such as incident management could be if they were automated. We use automated processes in so many other parts of our lives that it’s only natural to apply them to processes such as leave of absence and return to work.

Determining the best benefit of an automated RTW program depends on who you are in the process. The employee experience is better because it’s faster and doesn’t require mountains of paperwork. For the internal staff members who are responsible for their company’s RTW program, digitization and automation make it easier to comply with RTW laws, mitigating personal and professional risk. Additionally, because the process is streamlined, internal staff can be more productive.

For everyone involved, the improved visibility of individual incident reports and overall cases makes the RTW process smoother and more accurate.  

Outsourcing Your RTW is costing you a LOT of money!

Many organizations choose to outsource the return to work process which results in upwards of $400 per claim cost - even if the doctor's note says the employee should be on Temporary Disability in which case no accommodations can be made! This results in costs easily adding up to hundreds of thousands of dollars for large organizations. A process-driven platform with built-in rules capability can automatically route each claim correctly and prevent unnecessary, costly expenses.
Additionally, outsourcing your return to work program doesn't take away the interactions necessary with the claims department or the employee department, so you end up paying money to simply have a third party run the process - which is completely unnecessary if it is digitized!

Decisions Change, Exceptions Occur

A process-driven platform can handle changes in decisions by any party along the way very smoothly. For example, a doctor placing the employee on TTD, even after the accommodation has been made, can easily be implemented by the process-driven platform. The same goes for an employee accepting the accommodation later on, after first rejecting it - an automated platform running on logic can adapt to any change in decisions. BUT - if your RTW process is manual, any decision change or exception made can throw a huge kink in your workflow and eat up a substantial amount of time.

Digitizing Every Aspect of Return to Work

After the accommodation has been made, there are parts of the process that takes up unnecessary cost in running the process until completion. One of the most time-consuming steps in a manual return to work process is getting all parties to sign the agreement. This may be the most dreaded part of any claims administrator's tasks! A digitized, logic-driven process platform will integrate with Docusign to make this happen effortlessly. Imagine all of the time saved!
Once all claim documentation is processed, employees still need to be reminded about their upcoming appointments and the insurance adjuster needs to stay updated on the overall status. A process-driven platform can help that.

Choosing the Right Automated Solution for Your Return to Work Program

Choosing the right automation solution for your RTW program is crucial. Make sure you select a solution that gives you everything you need.

Pulpstream’s streamlined, digitized forms make multiple manual processes and tasks obsolete by giving you the ability to refine and update processes without time-intensive development work. Our solution’s customizable workflows, dashboards, forms, and communications use our component library and no-code platform. You can collect comprehensive and employee-specific data, store it safely, and analyze all of the data with a 360-degree view in just one click.

Plus, Pulpstream’s built-in notifications, communications, and triggers to keep updates and required actions on track and meeting compliance standards. All of this plus powerful analytics and integration support—right out of the box. No IT intervention required.

It’s Time to Streamline Your Return to Work Program

Save your employees time, create a better experience for everyone, and lock down compliance. With Pulpstream’s solutions, you can finally get rid of your disjointed and inefficient RTW process and make life easier for everyone with digitization and automation.  

Our team welcomes the opportunity to show you how we’ve helped many HR administrators by digitizing their leave of absence processes.

Ready to see how Pulpstream could work for you? Schedule a demo and we can show you how to automate your Return to Work process. The best part? We can easily customize any process based on your needs!