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Return-to-work automation

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Typical disability insurers could do a lot more to help benefits claimants return to work.

Thomas Capato, chief executive officer of FastTrack RTW Services & Solutions, made that argument recently during an interview about his company’s efforts to structure and automate key parts of the return-to-work process.

Today, Capato said, a group long-term disability (LTD) carrier may find that its vocational rehabilitation teams may interact with only a small percentage of the claimants.

If the return-to-work team does interact with a worker, the only help the team provides might be to give the worker informal advice and tweak the worker’s resume, Capato said.

FastTrack RTW has come up with a different approach.

A carrier answers 10 quick questions about a claimant, and then uses the answers to send FastTrack RTW information about the 30 percent of the claimants who seem most likely to benefit from help with returning to work.

The firm assesses how interested the claimants are in returning to work, helps them identify jobs that match their abilities, and gives highly motivated claimants extra help with finding and applying for jobs, Capato said.

About 60 percent of the claimants referred for counseling may get to the intensive job hunting phase, and about 31 percent of those claimants may actually get jobs through the program, Capato said.

The percentage actually getting jobs through the program is about 18 percent of the total referred to the program.

That’s better than the figure of 0 percent to 2 percent common at many group LTD programs, Capato said.

The nature of a worker’s physical is one important factor, but “motivation has to be a good starting point,” Capato said.

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