Highlights findings from research into how the health care industry helps employees who have experienced short term disability return to work, and makes suggestions as to how other sectors could learn from this approach.

The study identifies best practices in the health care sector for helping employees on short term disability return to work. It includes both a literature review that examines “several reports and articles on best RTW [Return to Work] practices in the health care sector” as well as information gleaned from interviews with disability management experts and health care sector employees, many of whom were “managers of their organizations’ RTW programs” (p.2). The authors explain that “the health care industry is of particular interest because of the wide variety of positions it fills and the high incidence rate of lost-time injuries or illnesses for nurses and other health care professionals” (p.1).

The authors begin “with background information on the relevance of the health care industry to job-related disability and RTW efforts and a description of [their] study methods” (p.1). This is followed by “an overview of the RTW processes used in the organizations where [they] conducted interviews [and]…findings related to staffing, transitional work, information sharing, and other promising practices” (p.1).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The resource goes into detail about promising RTW practices that apply directly to the health care sector in the three major areas described below: “• Staffing. What types of RTW positions are available within these organizations, and what are the qualifications and duties of RTW staff? • Transitional work. How are transitional work positions created and funded, and how do employers work with employees who cannot go back to their previous positions? • Information sharing. What methods are effective in helping doctors, employees, and managers understand the benefits of RTW programs? What tools help staff members identify transitional work opportunities and work restrictions?” (p.3) Following an examination of these areas, the resource expands its discussion to indicate how aspects of these promising practices might apply to other sectors. “Although the promising practices described in this report are limited to the health care sector, the main principles of these programs can be applied on a wider scale. Some promising practices that all organizations may use include the following: • Train and continually communicate with managers and supervisors regarding the RTW program and transitional work opportunities. • Communicate the importance of RTW to physicians, and create transitional work plans for physicians to approve. • Hire vocational rehabilitation and/or occupational therapists to manage cases or to be a part of the RTW team. • Use outside sources if transitional or full-time work cannot be found within the organization. • Provide information on the cost savings of the program to get buy-in from supervisors. • Fund transitional work positions in a way that motivates managers to bring back their own employees” (p.vi-vii). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)