Integrated Absence Management: Engaging Doctors

DMEC Staff@Work

Engaging Doctors to Improve Disability Outcomes

By Glenn Pransky, MD

Scientific Advisor
Lincoln Financial Group

By David Berube, MD

Chief Medical Officer
Lincoln Financial Group

Physicians play a key role in work disability, but most are unprepared or unsupported to help their patients return to work. Employers and others can offer solutions that engage physicians to improve the employee health and disability experience.

Disability recovery starts with getting the right care at the right time. For common conditions such as low back pain and depression, medical care may be inadequate, excessive, and inconsistent with evidence-based practices. For example, certain types of back and knee surgeries that were once state-of-the-art and commonplace have recently been debunked by scientific studies.1 Some providers don’t understand how poor treatment prolongs work absence.2 Patients also lack knowledge to make informed choices. In a large 2017 internal Lincoln Financial study, over 17% of disabled workers were receiving poor-quality care or had an inaccurate diagnosis.3 Treatments that are especially effective for improving return to work, such as rehabilitation for back pain or cognitive-behavioral therapy with a work component for depression, are often hard to find, subject to a high deductible, or not covered by health insurance.

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