More than 70 million physician office visits each year are directly related to musculoskeletal pain, and such pain is also a significant factor in prescription drug use and frequent absences from work. In Yuma County, Ariz., the majority of workers’ compensation claims are the result of musculoskeletal injuries. The county’s health insurance program costs are also greatly affected by employee pain.
In an effort to reduce the budgetary impact and personal costs associated with chronic pain, Yuma County partnered with Dorn Companies to institute a program of manual therapy called the Pain-Free Treatment Program (PFT).
“PFT is a system of non-invasive, deep tissue manual therapy consisting of more than 90 specific protocols for treating each different type of pain condition,” said Shannon Gunderman, risk manager. “It is designed to reduce or eliminate painful musculoskeletal conditions.”
The PFT program was initially covered under the county’s self-insured workers’ compensation program. Since the therapy falls under OSHA’s definition of first-aid, it can be used as a preventative measure and does not have to be reported as a recordable event, said Gunderman.
A local massage therapist was trained in the PFT technique and then the county simply paid the cost of the therapy sessions, which totaled $18,504 during the first year. According to Gunderman, the therapy provided during the pilot period saved the county approximately $87,500 by averting 25 potential claims, producing a net savings of nearly $69,000 after costs.
The results of the workers’ compensation pilot program were so impressive that the trustees of the Yuma County Employee Benefits Trust unanimously recommended that a similar program be tested under the county’s health insurance, with the goal of including it as a fully covered wellness benefit.
Employee feedback has also been overwhelmingly positive, with employees stating that they are pain-free for the first time.
Gunderman said that the program is easily transferrable to any entity. “Since Dorn Companies trains local therapists, any public entity with massage therapists in its community can easily implement the program.”
For more information, contact Shannon Gunderman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published in the March issue of Public Risk Magazine. You can view the full digital issue here: https://issuu.com/moiremarketing/docs/publicrisk_march2016-final-issuu