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MedRisk’s 2018 Industry Trends Report Points to Conservative Care

While workers’ compensation claims frequency and occupational injury rates have declined over the past few years, the number of claims involving physical and/or occupational therapy rose by 13 percent, according to MedRisk’s 2018 Industry Trends Report on Physical Medicine and Workers’ Comp.

Several factors contributed to the increased use of physical medicine, including the opioid crisis and ground-breaking new research.

“Mounting evidence shows a PT-first approach improves outcomes, reduces downstream costs and provides an effective alternative to opioids,” said Mary O’Donoghue, MedRisk’s Chief Clinical and Product Officer. “Research also shows the efficacy of conservative care—including physical therapy—instead of surgery.”

MedRisk’s own data supports this trend. The company, which manages more than 500,000 cases a year, saw 34 percent fewer post-surgical cases for low back pain between 2013 and 2017.

Available at, the report examines the impact of numerous other trends, such telerehabilitation and patient-centric care. It also analyzes key legislative and regulatory changes for physical therapy in workers’ compensation and predicts their impact for 2019. The report delves into Ohio’s recent requirement that workers receive 60 days of conservative care, including physical medicine, before it will authorize lumbar fusion surgery. Since Ohio implemented the ruling in January 2018, MedRisk saw an increase in non-surgical physical therapy referrals along with a decrease in post-surgical referrals in the state.

MedRisk’s 2018 Trend Report also highlights ground-breaking research in physical medicine, including a study that showed that a physical therapy consult can reduce opioid use, one that pointed to successful outcomes for nonsurgical treatment of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, and another that found immediate (within three days) physical therapy treatment for acute low back pain may lead to lower health care utilization and related costs.

MedRisk’s International Scientific Advisory Board continues to review research to create and update MedRisk’s proprietary, evidence-based guidelines. This year, ISAB produced the first vestibular therapy guidelines for treating injured workers with ongoing post-concussion symptoms.

About MedRisk

Based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, MedRisk is the largest managed care organization dedicated to the physical rehabilitation of injured workers. One of the Inc. 5,000 fastest growing companies, MedRisk counts over 260,000 providers in its network and serves over one-half million injured workers every year. The company holds direct contracts with more than 90 percent of the nation’s top workers’ compensation insurers and third-party administrators. MedRisk, which has successfully completed a SSAE 16 Type II examination, ensures high quality care and delivers outstanding customer service. To that end, all customer service professionals, healthcare advocates and physical therapists are based in the U.S. For more information, visit or call 800-225-9675.