Key Elements of a Successful Disability Management Program

As an employer, you no doubt know the importance of maintaining a healthy workplace. But do you have a game plan for the eventuality that one or more of your employees might suffer from a disability? Having a Disability Management Program in place not only demonstrates to your employees that you care about their well-being and improves morale, but it is also essential to protecting your company’s productivity and its bottom line.

While each Disability Management Program will be unique depending on the needs of the company, there are some key elements that are considered best practices. When developing your program, be sure that the following key elements are in place.

1. Support from senior management.

Developing an effective Disability Management Program can be a resource-intensive process. That means, that if you don’t have support or buy-in from your senior management, it is going to be very difficult to implement.

Before you begin developing your plan, you may need to spend some time educating senior management about its importance.

2. Develop a team approach.

Now that you have buy-in from your senior managers, you need to start developing a cross-functional team approach to disability management and a corporate culture that is committed to assisting injured employees and helping them return to work.

When everyone shares the same objectives as the Disability Management Program, it will have a much better chance of being successful.

3. Centralized claim reporting.

Having a centralized claim intake system, for all of your employees’ disability claims is one of the keys to ensuring the program runs smoothly. Claims should include Worker’s Compensation, Short Term Disability and Long-Term Disability in order to help you prevent duplicate claims. This will also streamline and simplify the process for your employees.

4. Claim management protocols.

Your program should also include guidelines for management to follow once a claim has been made. These could include protocols such as making contact with an employee within 24 hours of the claim, on-going contact with an employee who is on disability leave, early medical intervention and testing, and subrogation identification.

5. Return to work programs.

An effective return to work program is essential to your Disability Management Program because employees who are off work for six months because of an illness or injury only have a 50% chance of ever coming back to work. And the longer they are off work, the lower their chances of returning get. Usually this happens not because they are physically unable to return but because of a condition known as “psychological dis-employment”.

Helping an employee return to work may involve a number of tools and strategies including communicating regularly with the employee while they are on leave, and providing accommodations for the employee once they return to work – such as modified duties, hours, or assistive equipment in their workspace.

6. Regular reviews and audits of the program.

Finally, your Disability Management Program should include regular audits and reviews. Your program should not be static. Changes in legislation or new technologies may mean that you will have to update your program from time to time. You should also monitor your claims and the success of the program year over year to see where improvements can be made. By setting benchmarks and tracking your results, you can be assured that your Disability Management Program is as effective as it can be.

Creating an effective Disability Management Program is not a quick or easy process, but it is absolutely essential to your company’s productivity and profitability. If you would like assistance in developing, implementing or auditing your company’s program, contact TeksMed today.

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