Case management is defined as a process for coordinating health and social services so that a sick or disabled individual receives the most appropriate care in a timely and efficient manner. The goals are to enhance the recipient's quality of life and contain, whenever possible, the costs of the care.
Many employers have hired their own in-house case managers to act as liaisons with their medical, disability and workers' compensation carriers, as well as treating doctors. These individuals help those external forces understand the inner workings of the company and guide all parties, including the employee, through the maze of return to work.
Know your vendors and carriers! Develop a close relationship with them!
Health insurance carriers usually utilize case management for very severe illness or catastrophic situations, and not for return to work. Short and long term disability insurance plans usually offer vocational rehabilitation and return to work assistance as well as medical case management. Workers' compensation also offers both.
If you don't know the details of your plans, ASK! Your benefits or HR areas can provide you with copies of your policies or Summary Plan Descriptions.
Your disability carrier can also discuss plan design features with your benefits department that may actually be providing disincentives to your employees and their return to work efforts. Examples of these might be:
Some incentives that could be helpful to encourage return to work:
It's also important that your employees be aware of these services available to them via their benefits programs.