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Toys ‘R’ Us Demise Should Serve as Warning to WC Stakeholders

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Toys ‘R’ Us Demise Should Serve as Warning to WC Stakeholders

The announcement that Toys ‘R’ Us is closing its U.S. stores is a sad tale indeed. But it also holds valuable lessons for all industries, including workers’ compensation.   

In addition to its $5 billion debt, the company that dominated the toy selling industry for much of the last century made cardinal mistakes that can lead to the collapse of any organization; it failed to meet the changing needs of its customers and did not keep up with technological advancements. The lesson for workers’ compensation stakeholders is to understand the changing demands of the marketplace and adopt proven technological advancements that benefit all parties.

Technological Changes

A case in point is Electrodiagnostic Functional Assessment. EFA, as it is known, can accurately gauge and evaluate musculoskeletal pathology and pain. Similar to how an EKG assesses the heart muscle, EFA provides objective evidence of the skeletal muscle at rest, with usage, and return to rest — all of which are key to correctly evaluating soft tissue injuries. It provides information about muscle activity, distinguishes between acute and chronic injury, and objectively identifies the cause of pain, and it does so immediately.

It is revolutionary in the diagnosis and treatment of soft tissue injuries, one of the leading causes of workers’ compensation claims. EFA is the first technology that offers an objective determination of an injured worker’ pain.

Without EFA technology, physicians must rely on outdated imaging and patient descriptions of their pain. That makes the job of identifying the specific source of an injury more an art than a science.

Workers’ compensation stakeholders that have explored it laud EFA technology. For example, Dr. Adam Seidner, chief Medical Officer for The Hartford and former global Medical Director at Travelers Insurance authored a study touting the benefits of EFA.

An increasing number of companies and industry thought leaders praise the EFA technology. And it has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, not exactly an organization known for rushing to judgement.

Nevertheless, many in the industry have been slow to adopt the technology. It is not hard to understand why this is so. It is new, just as MRIs at one point emerged on the scene and provided a better tool than the X-Ray to make certain diagnoses. But just as Toys ‘R’ Us was slow to adapt to the online shopping movement, workers’ compensation organizations that hesitate to consider this next generation diagnostic tool for soft tissue injuries may find themselves shuttering their own doors.

Changing Marketplace

The vast majority of injured workers want to heal and get back to work and function as quickly as possible. Research over the last few years continually bears out the need to provide appropriate medical treatment to injured workers as soon as possible. A plethora of studies have shown the faster an injured worker receives proper care, the quicker he will recover and return to work. Those left to worry and wonder are more likely to hire attorneys and less likely to go back to their jobs, or any employment.

EFA, combined with another technological advancement makes this possible. Utilizing telemedicine, an injured worker can be evaluated and begin treatment almost immediately after an injury. A medical technician who meets with the injured worker can connect to a board certified physician for diagnosis. If EFA is needed, that can be done at the same time, with the results available to the physician on the spot.

Armed with an objective, accurate diagnosis, the physician can determine the precise treatment that will help the injured worker recover. If physical therapy is called for, for example, the physician can dictate where and how it should be performed.

However, it is not only the injured worker who benefits from the EFA technology. Most employers and payers want to do the right thing for their workers. They also don’t want to spend money for inappropriate treatments; nor do they want to waste precious dollars to treat injuries that are not work-related.

A benefit of EFA technology is its ability to determination causation. A test done on an employee pre-injury and compared to results post-injury reveals if there has been an actual injury and, if so, what was the likely cause.

Conclusion

The quick, accurate diagnosis enabled by EFA technology allows effective treatment to begin as soon as possible. The employer/payer saves money by getting the correct treatment to the injured worker sooner so he recovers quicker, and avoids funding ineffective procedures and/or non-work related injuries. This is truly a win-win scenario.

Workers’ compensation stakeholders who educate themselves and are open to advancements in medical treatments will see the benefits to themselves and their clients, rather than having to tell 30,000 workers their jobs are ending.