The Importance of Choosing Doctors for a Workers' Compensation Physician Panel
One of the changes to the Tennessee workers’ compensation laws that went into effect on July 1, 2014 affected the rules about physician panels. Under the old law, business owners had to provide three physicians or surgeons, who are not affiliated with the same practice, in the employee’s community from which an employee could choose to treat injuries suffered on the job. If a back injury occurred, employers had to add 1 chiropractor to the panel. If the chosen doctor referred the employee to a specialist, the employer had to provide a new panel of three non-affiliated specialist physicians. Under the new law, employers can now provide a panel of three physicians, surgeons, chiropractors, or specialty practice groups available in the employee’s community. If no providers are available in the community, employers can include doctors within a 100-mile radius of the community. If the chosen physician refers the employee to a specialist, the employer can either accept the referral or provide a panel of three specialists. For business owners, choosing physicians for this panel is a very important process. We at Elite Insurance Solutions would like to help our local business owners with this task by sharing some tips from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) on how to best choose these physicians.
To find the best available physicians, the ACOEM recommends following three steps:
1. Identify potential candidates.
It is very important to provide physicians in whom your employees can trust. To best find potential candidates, you can call the healthcare or workers’ compensation departments of large and well-managed employers in your area to ask about their physician panels. Ask your fellow colleagues for recommendations of the best healthcare practices. You can also consult with your state or county’s medical society as well as with state family medicine, orthopedic, and chiropractic groups to ask for a list of members in the occupational health or workers’ compensation committees.
2. Determine which doctors meet the criteria for suitability in terms of proficiency, access, and credentials.
After identifying potential candidates, ask to meet with the staffs and physicians at each facility. Ensure that the facilities are within a reasonable driving distance from your workplace, are accepting new patients, are willing to take workers’ compensation cases, and are open during your business hours. Check the education of each physician as well as the practice history to ensure the basic medical competency and moral fitness of the doctors. You should also look for a physician or practice with a proven background and demonstrated familiarity with workers’ compensation and occupational medicine.
3. Learn about each physician’s practice style.
To find the best high value doctors, you should learn all you can about the practice style of each of your candidates. Look for the following services:
A suitable practice setting and location with reasonable waiting times
Good communication skills within the entire office
Accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and a focus on functional recovery
Have questions about the Tennessee workers’ compensation laws? Contact Elite Insurance Solutions to ask our agents anything you need to know.