It’s no surprise that the world we live in is ever-changing…
And yes, that includes even the world of claims and PT.
Each year, there are noticeable trends in the industry — trends that impact our day-to-day practices.
As we enter into the second half of 2023, have you taken note of the key trends shaping the future of our industry? Below, we list three trends that you need to know and more importantly, what you need to be doing about them.
As identified in our 2023 Industry Trends Report, here are the quick facts — keep scrolling if you want to learn more:
- An aging employee population. 39% of the U.S. workforce is expected to be older than 55 in 2026. Being that total PT visits increase by injured employee age, it’s increasingly more important for employers to take necessary measures to prevent injuries among the older workforce.
- Increased rates of anxiety and depression. With a significant jump in reported anxiety and/or depression among injured employees between 2019 and 2023, taking proactive steps to identify and manage psychosocial health conditions has become of the essence.
- Lower rates of surgery and opioid utilization. Only 16% of claims involving PT in 2022 were reported to have utilized surgery. With PT becoming a more widely accepted critical conservative care recommendation, a positive trend for claim costs and outcomes can be expected.
1. An aging employee population
While older employees get injured less frequently, it doesn’t come as a shock that older adults generally tend to heal slower than younger people. This difference in the recovery process can affect the rehabilitation journey in different ways — specifically in terms of total PT visits and duration.
Across all injury types, data shows that the number of PT visits attended by injured employees increases by about one full visit with each age group up through the 55-65 age bracket, where average visits per episode of care, remains consistent through the older population. What this means, however, is that persons aged 56-75+ need 21% more PT visits on average than persons aged 18-55. Unsurprisingly, MedRisk also found that while the number of visits increases by age bracket, so too does duration. Data shows that 31% of persons aged 56-75+ experience a longer rehabilitation process than those aged 18-55.
So what do you need to do? It’s now become essential to plan and act with age in mind. Start with arming yourself with the right knowledge and putting preventative measures to “age-proof” your workplace. Moreover, maximize new AI-driven PT innovations that can identify high severity claims early on to assign the appropriate resources for age-specific needs of older adults.
2. Increased rates of anxiety and depression
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in anxiety and depression among the general population. This is also true for workers who have been injured on the job.
Data reveals that 50% or more injured employees experience clinically-related depressive symptoms at some point, especially during the first month after the injury. These cases, when compared to those where these conditions were not reported, were also found to have 7% higher utilization than those who did not report these conditions
So how can you respond? Unlike bruises or lacerations, psychological setbacks tend to be invisible, but they can still derail recovery and claim progress, ultimately impacting claim outcomes. Partnering with the right PT provider that can help detect these early on is key. Pre-treatment consultation can provide predictive insights into a patient’s behavior, including any barriers or psychosocial issues that impact their recovery.
3. Lower rates of surgery and opioid utilization
There is a growing trend away from surgery and opioid use for workers’ compensation injuries. Prior to the coronavirus health pandemic, rates of surgery were already declining, with nearly one-quarter of all claims involving PT receiving surgery in 2015 compared to just 16% in 2022. This is due to a number of factors, including the high cost of surgery and opioids, the potential for addiction, and the availability of effective non-surgical treatments, such as physical therapy.
As a result of the trends mentioned above, there is an increased use of physical therapy for workers’ compensation injuries. Physical therapy can help workers recover more quickly and safely, and it can also help to reduce the cost of claims.
So what does this mean to you? With physical therapy playing a larger role in medical treatment and overall medical management costs, you can expect lower costs and shorter recovery times.