One way evolving technology keeps up with injured workers’ needs

More and more we are hearing the phrase, “There’s an app for that.” If you have a need, you are likely to find a digital application to accommodate you, and developers are coming up with new ones all the time to meet market demands.

Sometimes people are becoming developers just to create an app to meet their needs.  A prime example of this is an “app-like” mobile workers’ compensation website cooked up by Katey Watkins and Marc Beaumont of University of Alabama at Birmingham Health Systems. Both are employed by the UABHS e-marketing department and neither has ever designed a mobile application before.

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“It’s really a mobile website that functions like an app, but it is less expensive and easier to design and create,” says Watkins, who is the UABHS e-marketing manager.

UAB has contracts with many local businesses to handle workers’ comp claim. Injuries that occur during normal business hours are straightforward and more easily managed. An injured worker is treated at Workplace, UAB’s workers’ compensation headquarters, or at UAB or Highlands hospitals. Workers injured during off-hours, nights, or weekends are more difficult.

With the new app, the idea is for the process of sending a worker for needed care to have the same sort of streamlining that a case that happened during office hours would. A manager downloads the app to a mobile device or computer, and when an injury occurs they launch it to fill out fields on a form with patient information and injury details. The app sends this form as an e-mail to an emergency communications specialist, who relays info on the injury to the ER even as the patient is en route. The specialists, who are paramedics, are also trained to administer requisite drug and alcohol tests.

“We needed a way to expedite patient care and provide better service to both patients and their employers,” says Steve Canfield, UAB workers’ compensation liason at the Workplace Occupational Health Clinic, “The mobile website allows a manager or supervisor to communicate directly via the Web with medical professionals at UAB Highlands or the Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital.

“The system ensures that the medical staff in the ED gets accurate information about what to expect when the patient arrives. It makes sure the paperwork and claim forms follow the  correct pathways, and it makes sure that drug and alcohol tests are done promptly and properly.”

Watkins and Beaumont, who is the director of e-marketing at UABHS, used existing platforms and firewalls in creating the mobile site. This eliminated many of the complexities and expenses surrounding mobile apps. According to Watkins, the design cost about $300 and took only a few weeks to create. A full-fledged app can cost thousands of dollars and take months to develop. UABHS has gotten good feedback on their project, and will present it during November’s Greystone 16th Annual Health Car Internet Conference in Las Vegas.

Roughly nine months ago, our own Georgia workers’ compensation attorney Michael Moebes created a workers’ comp app called “The Compulator” to assist lawyers, insurance adjusters, and injured workers with analyzing workers’ compensation cases and negotiate settlements at mediations. As of March, The Compulator is available for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.  You really should get one.

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