When Small Data Informs Big Data: STD Progression to LTD
By Fraser Gaspar, PhD, MPH
We have all seen claims that ended up with unexpectedly poor return-to-work (RTW) outcomes, and wanted to know why. At a recent conference, attendees were challenged to do a “case post-mortem” analysis. My opportunity to do this arose when I joined a research project to understand the factors that influence case progression from short-term disability (STD) to long-term disability (LTD). The pilot project revealed interesting differences between claims with good or poor RTW outcomes.
To understand the factors that influence progression from STD to LTD, the pilot used STD data from a manufacturer with 8,000 employees across North America and Europe. This firm had 512 STD claims over two years, all with a maximum benefit duration of 181 days, in which 4.1% of cases went on to LTD. We randomly selected 10 STD cases that went to LTD and compared those to 10 cases that did not go to LTD, but returned to full duty. Many employers can support such a pilot effort, which is a first step in developing more sophisticated case management systems that can track additional case factors to extract knowledge from data.
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