PMA Perspectives - Telemedicine

PMA Perspectives_blogPMA Companies launched this series in order to provide straightforward information about the implications of COVID-19 and how PMA Companies is responding. Each installment will feature a PMA Executive or Thought Leader responding to three or four questions posed by our moderator, Derek Hopper, Senior Vice President, Shared Services. The objective is to get to the point quickly without a lot of fluff. We hope this will lead you to have a more robust conversation with your PMA Representative.

This installment of PMA Perspectives features Josephine Copeland, Vice President of Managed Care, and the topic is Telemedicine.

Derek Hopper (DH): Jo, which telemedicine solutions have been made available by PMA since stay-at-home orders were first issued?

Josephine Copeland (JC): Depending on their circumstances, injured workers are able to conduct virtual appointments with physicians and access tele-rehab or on-line physical therapy. The healthcare providers who are part of our programs have experience treating workers’ compensation injuries and have received special training on how to deliver care in a virtual environment.

DH: How easy is it for clients and their injured workers to access telemedicine services?

JC: Our solutions are easy to access, and as long as an injured worker has a computer or smart device with a camera, it is as simple as downloading an app. For physician visits, injured workers may access care through our nurse triage service, PMA Care24, if their employer has made arrangements for the service. If not, injured workers can engage directly with our telemedicine partner and schedule a visit. When it comes to tele-rehab, we automatically screen injured workers to determine if it is an option. When necessary, our claims and managed care staff can facilitate or assist with scheduling an appointment.

DH: What are the benefits of using these services?

JC: There are several benefits. These services offer one-on-one virtual visits from the comfort of the injured worker’s home. This is important because some people are not able to access care due to stay-at-home orders or should not leave their homes because of their age or underlying medical conditions. In addition, telemedicine allows injured workers to continue care and avoid disrupting their recovery and return to work plans. Finally, contact with another person in a caring environment is important for those people who live alone and are facing prolonged isolation.

DH: Jo, you have the last word.

JC: Managed Care professionals understand that change is inevitable, which means we have to be innovative and create meaningful solutions that allow us to fulfill our main objective: helping injured workers return to work and restore their quality of life. Although telemedicine had not been widely adopted in the workers’ compensation arena prior to the pandemic, it has quickly become a critical healthcare delivery vehicle. We will continue to monitor its impact, the quality of care delivered by medical providers, and how things like isolation, sedentary lifestyles, and unmanaged comorbidities affect recovery times and claim duration.

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