Industry Trends Report 2017

Physical Medicine and Workers' Comp

As the leading provider of managed physical medicine for the workers’ compensation industry, MedRisk has always been dedicated to understanding and advancing industry best practices. Our commitment to delivering better return-to-work success for patients, providers and employers requires MedRisk to stay responsive to treatment and technology trends. We’ve compiled some of the more meaningful changes we’ve seen in the wider community over the last year, as well as the changes MedRisk has made in response to where we see managed physical medicine for workers’ comp going next.

MedRisk by the Numbers

MedRisk is the largest specialty managed care organization in the workers’ compensation
industry that is dedicated to physical rehabilitation.

Injured Workers


treated in 2017



Network Providers






to Initial Evaluation


U.S. Based

Service Model


patient satisfaction

The 5-Year Shift
in Managed Physical Medicine


Fewer Surgical Cases for Low Back Pain From 2013-2017

Conservative Care

MedRisk has seen a significant reduction in post-surgical cases for low back pain—a trend that is in line with the rise of a conservative care-first approach to improve outcomes and reduce costs.


of Patients Prescribed Opioids for Chronic Pain Misuse Them

Opioid Epidemic

Opioid misuse has ballooned to epidemic proportions since 2013. PT is now recommended by the CDC as the preferred first treatment for chronic pain and an effective alternative to opioids in many cases.


Reduction in Post-op Care with Pre-op Education

Patient Education

Research over the last five years has validated the importance of patient education in driving positive outcomes, efficient return to work and cost savings. PT sessions often play an essential educational role.

Top ICD9/10



Low Back Pain




Pain in Shoulder

Research shows acupuncture can reduce the severity of low back pain suggesting it is a viable alternative to opioids and supports the trend towards conservative care. MedRisk’s expert network of providers includes 1,425 acupuncturists nationwide. Low back pain (ICD10 M54.5) was the number-one diagnosis code for MedRisk referrals to an acupuncturist in 2017.

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Post-Surgical PT


Pain in Shoulder


Pain in Knee


Low Back Pain

Are shoulder and rotator cuff problems the new low back pain? Evidence-based research has shown that conservative care can reduce surgical intervention for low back pain. Can the same be true for shoulder pain? According to our numbers, pain in the shoulder is now the number-one diagnosis for cases with post-surgical PT.

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Responding to Evolving Needs




MedRisk integrated telerehabilitation into its Platinum Grade Program for Managed Physical Medicine.

Evidence-Based Guidelines

Evidence-Based Guidelines

Evidence-Based Guidelines

  • MedRisk relies on proprietary, evidence-based guidelines that provide recommendations for physical medicine that go beyond just the number of visits.
  • The guidelines are developed by MedRisk’s International Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB) which is made up of internationally recognized PTs, OTs, chiropractors, and MDs.
  • The ISAB meets annually to review the latest research and ensure MedRisk’s guidelines are up-to-date, considering everything from modality, timing, and surgery to chronicity, delayed treatment, complexity, and comorbidities.
  • Updates for 2017 included evidence-based changes to shoulder, back, and hand treatment guidelines. Read more >>

Patient Education

Patient Education

Patient Education

  • Patient education can reduce the need for post-operative care, improve patient satisfaction, and eliminate some common issues according to recent research.
  • MedRisk takes an innovative approach to workers’ comp by providing patient advocacy and education to reduce fear, anger and other emotions surrounding treatment, so patients can focus on getting better, faster.
  • Our Patient Advocacy Program combines written educational materials for key services that can be used to prepare patients for treatment, convenient scheduling, and one-on-one guidance for injured workers.
  • In 2017, MedRisk added a new patient education guide for shoulder injuries to our Patient Advocacy Program. Read more >>

Physical Medicine Legislative Recap

MedRisk gathers the latest legislative and regulatory developments and challenges each quarter.
Here is a full summary of movements in 2017 and the implications for 2018.


MA Changes Regulations for UR


MD Establishes One-year Bill Submission Period for Providers


CO Adopts New Regulations for Telemedicine


CA Institutes Timely Bill Submission Requirements


TX Gains Greater Control Over WH/WC


AZ Moves to RBRVS for Medical Payments


VA Changes FS Starting January 2018


PA Suspends Independent Rating Evaluations

Research Insights