Why telehealth is growing in the workers' compensation industry

Accessibility to care and swift return to the workplace are two driving factors behind the increase in telehealth services in the workers' compensation industry, according to the Insurance Journal.

Telehealth services can be used in both rural and urban settings, which can expand care for workers hurt on the job. Additionally, employees can receive treatment right at the workplace, which allows individuals to return to work right away if appropriate. These reasons fuel the industry's increase in virtual care services, which will become the standard in workers' compensation within the next few years, said Dan Hunt, MD, medical director at AF Group, the parent company to various workers' compensation groups that provide coverage across the U.S., according to the report.

AF Group provides telehealth program allows injured workers to access a nurse after they have sustained an injury at the workplace. Through the phone call, the nurse determines what the type of injury whether "it is something that the nurse can work with the individual and manage the care," according to the report.

If the nurse cannot help the individual treat his or her injury, the provider will use national guidelines to determine whether the injured worker needs to see a physician. If so, the nurse then works with the individual to decide whether he or she should seek care through telehealth services or in-person.

Telehealth services would not be recommended for all injuries, such as life-threatening or severe ones. However, most claims among injured workers, such as strains, sprains and cuts, are addressed within the telehealth program, Dr. Hunt said.

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