WCIRB Releases Study on Impact of Physical Medicine Treatments on Opioid Use and Lost Time in California Workers’ Comp

1/15/2020

The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California (WCIRB) has released its Physical Medicine Treatments and Their Impact on Opioid Use and Lost Time in California Workers’ Compensation study. The study reveals insights into the overall trends and patterns of physical medicine treatment cost and utilization. It quantifies the potential substitution between physical medicine and opioid use early in the life of a claim and their effects on lost time on the job.

Key findings in the study include:

  • The average medical payment for physical medicine continued to rise from 2013 through 2018, contributing to a growing proportion of the total medical paid per claim as well as of the medical paid for physician services per claim.
  • Overall, soft tissue injury claims involving physical therapy (PT) during the first 30 days of the initial medical visit were less likely to involve opioid use within one year of the injury, compared to similar claims without early PT. The impact of early PT on initiation of opioid use varies over time; particularly, between 2015 and 2017, soft tissue claims involving early PT were significantly less likely to involve opioid use.
  • Among soft tissue claims involving opioid use, those with early PT had significantly lower doses of opioids prescribed within one year of the injury than similar claims without early PT.
  • Comparing claims with similar characteristics but different timing of utilizing PT, those with early PT were significantly less likely to have a lost time component.

The full study is available in the Research section of the WCIRB website or by clicking the following link:

WCIRB Research Forum Webinar

The WCIRB will host a free webinar to discuss the Physical Medicine Treatments and Their Impact on Opioid Use and Lost Time in California study. Click on the registration link below to sign up.

Physical Medicine Treatments and Their Impact on Opioid Use and Lost Time in California Workers’ Comp
Wednesday, January 22, 2020, 10:00 – 11:00 AM PT
Presenters:
Dave Bellusci, WCIRB Executive Vice President and Chief Actuary
Julia Zhang, Ph.D., Managing Director, Medical Analytics
Elizabeth Sabiniano, Senior Medical Data Research Analyst
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For those unable to attend the live webinar, a recording will be posted in the Research section of the WCIRB website following the event.