Response time and early intervention are critical when workers report job performance problems due to health conditions. There is strong evidence that disability duration is reduced with integrated care that emphasizes service coordination and workplace modifications (accommodations) for workers with musculoskeletal or mental health conditions. 
WorkerFIT has launched an innovative Job Function Survey and a Worker AbilityFIT Survey to help improve job readiness of employees with work-related or non-occupational health conditions. This new feature provides a simple and cost-effective integrated care intervention to clarify job demands and identify barriers and solutions to enable stay-at-work or return-to-work.
Poor communication of job demands contributes to delayed recovery and excessive treatment. The worker is often the only source of information about job demands for an attending health provider to consider. When job demands are exaggerated by the injured worker, this results in excessive lost-time or restricted duty days. If the worker minimizes their job demands, then a worker is at high risk for ongoing chronic symptoms or new work-related injury after premature release to return to full duty. WorkerFIT’s innovative survey feature helps to expedite safe return to work in the following manner:
Job Function Survey: This is a mobile-friendly email survey that prompts the manager or safety professional to describe physical or cognitive ability requirements for a given job position or modified duty assignment. Identifying expected job demands is a helpful first step when a worker reports having job performance difficulties due to health issues. Survey responses may be imported to create a functional job description that communicates physical and cognitive job demands to health examiners.
Worker AbilityFIT Survey: This is a mobile-friendly email survey that invites a worker with job performance issues to rate his or her ability to perform specific physical or cognitive job demands. Identifying the worker’s perception of their ability is a helpful next step for early intervention to address work performance issues. The worker is prompted to identify concerns or suggest job improvements. This better communicates full duty job demands and available modified duty options.
These WorkerFIT survey tools create a strong foundation to promote safe and cost-effective therapy and workplace interventions that include:
- early contact with worker by the workplace
- work accommodation offers
- interactive work-site visits for ergonomic consultation
- contacts between healthcare provider and workplace
- service coordination to promote return to work
- functional capacity evaluation measures to validate work restrictions
After a limiting injury or illness, treating providers often over-rely on subjective reports of symptoms and perceived function by injured workers. Studies indicate that physicians often under-estimate work-related abilities after performing a clinical evaluation of impairment, especially when chronic pain is a factor. This contributes to unnecessary work disability and restricted duty. Peppers et. al. recommended adding objective functional capacity evaluation measures to improve the accuracy of physical activity restrictions for workers who report chronic pain. Lambeek et. al. investigated the cost-benefit of integrated care in sick listed patients with chronic low back pain and estimated 26 to 1 return on investment for every dollar invested in integrated care. The image below presents an algorithm approach to integrated care using the WorkerFIT Platform.
- Cullen KL, Irvin E, Collie A, et al. Effectiveness of Workplace Interventions in Return-to-Work for Musculoskeletal, Pain-Related and Mental Health Conditions: An Update of the Evidence and Messages for Practitioners. J Occup Rehabil. 2018;28(1):1-15.
- Brokaw JP, Walker WC, Cifu DX, Gardner M. Sitting and standing tolerance in patients with chronic back pain: comparison between physician prediction and covert observation. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2004 May;85(5):837-9.
- Brouwer S, Dijkstra PU, Stewart RE, Göeken LN, Groothoff JW, Geertzen JH. Comparing self-report, clinical examination and functional testing in the assessment of work-related limitations in patients with chronic low back pain. Disabil Rehabil. 2005 Sep 2;27(17):999-1005.
- Peppers D, Figoni SF, Carroll BW, Chen MM, Song S, Mathiyakom W. Influence of Functional Capacity Evaluation on Physician’s Assessment of Physical Capacity of Veterans With Chronic Pain: A Retrospective Analysis. PM R. 2017 Jul;9(7):652-659.
- Lambeek LC, Bosmans JE, Van Royen BJ, Van Tulder MW, Van Mechelen W, Anema JR. Effect of integrated care for sick listed patients with chronic low back pain: economic evaluation alongside a randomized controlled trial. BMJ. 2010 Nov 30;341:c6414.