Injury compensation reduced by $1M at Robins Air Force Base

Airman performing checkup.

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The cost of worker's compensation has not only been reduced at Robins, but injury care treatment and services offered here have increased as well.

"In Occupational Medicine Services we have been leading the effort to support cost effectiveness for Team Robins," said Col. (Dr.) Michael Rappa, OMS chief.

In the last chargeback year, from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014, injury compensation claims decreased $1 million from the previous year, from $15.6 million to $14.6 million.

Much of the savings has been attributed to last year's opening of a facility on the flight line, the FAST FORWARD clinic, expanded service hours, an additional provider offering injury care, and support staff to assist with injury care management.

"We have created a service here to provide more injury care treatment for our employees so they don't have to go off base to receive that care," said Rappa. "By doing so, we've saved money on our worker's compensation bill."

With that increased accessibility, availability and convenience for employees, it is a win-win situation for everyone.

While there's been a significant savings in one year, the last quarter, from July 1 to Sept. 30, also saw a sharp drop, the most in any quarter since 2010.

Total costs for last quarter alone was at $3.15 million, of which the previous quarter in the last chargeback year was at $4.17 million - a $1 million decrease in only one quarter.

"It's never dropped so much from one quarter to the next," he said. "We would see a drop from year to year, but now we are seeing a dramatic drop in just one quarter."

There's one other interesting number to note. There's also been a marked increase in how much care

OMS has been providing for injured employees.

A study was conducted by Rappa in the fall of 2012; a second was done again in the spring of 2014. In that time period, it was determined services increased from 50 percent to 64 percent.

"As a result, I think we're seeing employees getting care earlier, being treated more effectively and getting back on their feet faster," he said. "It's huge when we can provide services internally to our own."

Rappa said he sees the trend continuing as long as OMS continues to provide the high quality services employees expect, and professionals remain responsive to the needs of the work force.

The FAST FORWARD facility, which stands for First Aid Station, Treatment, and Forward Operating Rehabilitation of Workers Accentuating Restorative Dynamics, opened in June 2013.

In its first year of operation in Bldg. 49, there were more than 1,100 visits to rehabilitation specialists, and nearly 500 visits to the clinic's nurse practitioner - with a total return on investment of more than $1 million.

That includes the cost avoidance of having to visit off base providers as well as reclaimed production time costs. The facility provides first aid, acute workplace injury care, and musculoskeletal rehabilitative care. Most of the injuries are related to slips, trips and falls, resulting in such things as contusions, cuts, abrasions, muscle strains, and pain in the back, shoulder and knees.

By offering open access to care at two different sites at Robins, one on the flight line and in Bldg. 207, both OMS and the FAST FORWARD clinic have managed to remove barriers to access, increasing the timeliness of treatment, and effectively managing the care of work-related medical conditions through the Patient-Centered Medical Home Model.

"I'd like to see all of our employees give OMS an opportunity to provide for their care when injured, to be their preferred provider when it comes to workplace injury" said Rappa. "I believe they'll benefit from having that access and availability of top-notch services from a dedicated team of health professionals with many years of experience."

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