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MedRisk International Scientific Advisory Board Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Twenty years ago and only two years after founding MedRisk, the first specialty managed care network for physical medicine in the workers comp industry, Shelley Boyce, CEO of MedRisk, launched an initiative dedicated to what was to be an ongoing focus for the company: strengthening clinical outcomes for injured workers.

Founded as a research-focused academic subsidiary of MedRisk in 1996, Expert Clinical Benchmarks (ECB) was formed with the primary goal of establishing best-practice guidelines to improve the quality of healthcare. To lead this project, Boyce appointed Roger Nelson, PT, PhD, FAPTA, then head of physical medicine at Thomas Jefferson University and former advisor to the Surgeon General, to the role of ECB vice president.

“In some ways, people take it for granted,” said Boyce. “We all say ‘evidence-based guidelines’ today, but there was no such terminology 20 years ago. Just figuring out how to structure them – deciding whether to do it by diagnosis, by body part, all the fundamentals – let alone what the individual guidelines should look like was both exciting and challenging.”

Nelson and Boyce recruited experts from across the country and abroad who would serve as gatekeepers of the guidelines – a group that became known as the ECB’s International Scientific Advisory Review Board (ISAB). Together, this group chartered a list of clinical objectives to focus their efforts:

  • Ensure appropriate treatment
  • Support efficient and effective treatment to eliminate unnecessary delays and medical costs
  • Encourage and enhance communication among all parties
  • Promote better outcomes through changes in provider behavior

Over the last two decades, ISAB has remained committed to these aims – expanding its clinical research to the ongoing development of new guidelines designed to improve the management of services as well as physical rehabilitation and delayed recovery cases.

“We began with a small group of experts in the field of physical medicine, but since then, the group has expanded to address the growing business model for MedRisk,” said Nelson.

The ISAB is now led by Phil McClure, PT, PhD, FAPTA, chair of the Physical Therapy department at Arcadia University, who took over the role of ECB vice president from Nelson in 2013. There are 13 seats on the current Board, including several physical therapists, physicians, a chiropractor, a radiologist and a clinical psychologist, as well as industry thought leaders with active research agendas and extensive publication records.

“This mix of clinical and research experience enables both a practical and critical review of the MedRisk guidelines and clinical protocols with the goal of promoting appropriate management and reducing errors and minimizing ineffective care,” McClure said.

Today, MedRisk’s evidence-based guidelines are the industry’s platinum standard for driving best practice and ensuring quality care.

The ISAB meets regularly to review and continuously update the guidelines for various body regions and conditions and to address evolving research and treatments. In the industry’s current landscape, this means keeping up with trends in telehealth and the impact of psychosocial barriers on recovery and responding with new guidance and/or product development. It also means leveraging the millions of data records gathered at MedRisk in order to analyze patient experiences and optimize future clinical outcomes.

“The industry is moving fast. We look forward to keeping pace with it all for the next twenty years – and beyond,” said Boyce.