Case Study

iPad Technology Reduces Delays

Introduction
Almost all U.S. adults own a cell phone, half of which are smartphones, and 42 percent of adults own a tablet. As mobile technology becomes more prevalent within the healthcare industry, its benefits are becoming increasingly transparent. Sixty-seven percent of physicians believed improved communication and care coordination capabilities due to interoperability was a benefit of electronic health records and 59 percent saw a clinical benefit due to immediately available data.

Today, technology drives healthcare management. Industry needs require systems to accommodate real-time information to drive claims outcomes and return to work. Mobile technology aids this effort. Placing real-time tools into the hands of case managers can ensure injured workers are approved for return to work as soon as the physician’s approval is received, in hours or minutes rather than days later. Timelines can be streamlined and management can improve with immediate triage, assignment and status updates.

Case Synopsis
A 40-year-old, male laborer sustained an injury while loading and unloading generators. The pain began in his back and radiated down his left leg the next day. An MRI revealed a herniated disc within his lumbar spine.

When conservative treatments including anti- inflammatories, physical therapy and a series of epidural steroid injections did not offer any relief, the injured worker underwent surgery. Upon completion of his back surgery, the injured worker participated in physical therapy, work conditioning and work hardening. A functional capacity evaluation (FCE) was completed at the end of his treatment showing maximum medical improvement.

At a visit to his treating provider six months after the surgery, the injured worker was still subjectively complaining of pain. The treating provider asked the case manager for an updated return to work plan as the injured worker had not met his work demand level. The case manager advised the treating provider that the injured worker DID meet the work demands as evidenced by the FCE report.

The treating provider was referencing a previous monthly progress report from therapy – a common issue resulting from the paper shuffling of hard-copy files. The case manager obtained the FCE report in the claims system on her iPad as well as the job description that was uploaded to the system. The treating provider, case manager and injured worker reviewed both documents and the provider concluded the injured worker was able to return to work at modified duty. The physician prescribed additional physical therapy, which in collaboration with the case manager, helped to manage the injured worker’s pain upon return to work, which led to his full recovery.

Case Outcomes
Had the treating provider not had access to the correct report via the case manager’s iPad, he would have outlined permanent restrictions for the injured worker, which would have cost his employer more than $67,000 in temporary total disability benefits in the first year alone, according to the maximum amount of Temporary Total Disability Benefits in 2012, the year the injury occurred. This does not account for the number of years he would have had to receive TTD benefits, nor does it convey a potential wage differential between what the injured worker used to make and what the injured worker is currently making.

Using mobile technology in conjunction with an advanced healthcare management portal enables increased sharing of information channels. This results in more accurate information to increase efficiency, faster return to work and decreased costs.

Conclusion
At CorVel, all field case managers have iPads and use CorVel’s proprietary apps to track the status of milestones and events for their cases. This mobile technology enables real-time updates to CorVel’s system and allows case managers to immediately add notes about appointments and completed tasks for their assigned caseload. By placing real- time tools into the hands of case managers, CorVel ensures incidents are captured in minutes, not days or hours after they occur, reducing costly lag times.


Sources:

Smith A. Smartphone ownership 2013. PEW Research Center Internet & American Life Project, 2013.

Gartner Inc. Smartphone sales grew 46.5 percent in second quarter of 2013 and exceeded feature phone sales for first time. 2013.

Deloitte Center for Health Solutions 2013 Survey. Physician Adoption of Health Information Technology, 2013.