Got hurt at work? There is an app for that.

Why virtual medicine could change the face of workers’ compensation.

The Associated Press had a fascinating article last week regarding virtual medicine. Millions of people will soon be able to see a doctor on their smartphones or laptops.

Walgreens, UnitedHealth Group, and the Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer Anthem are launching applications allowing patients to see virtual doctors. The aim to offer more convenience and reduce costs.

I found this article interesting because insurance companies are always looking for ways to reduce medical costs and it typically comes at the expense of claimants. Here is our look at the future of virtual medicine and workers’ compensation.

28 days later

Michigan law requires payment of reasonable and necessary medical care for individuals hurt on-the-job. This includes doctor visits, medications, surgery, physical therapy, and other required treatments. Employees must wait 28 days before choosing their own doctor or getting a second opinion.

It is common for employers and insurance companies to require treatment at an industrial clinic during the first 28 days. Some of these medical facilities only care about saving money and provide less than optimal care. We have seen many clients get diagnosed with a sprain when in fact it is much more serious.

We can see a future where employees must speak with a virtual doctor before getting sent to a clinic. Privacy will be limited because these consultations will occur in the workplace under the watchful eye of managers. Many common work injuries cannot be diagnosed without a physical examination and this will delay treatment.

Independent medical examination (IME)

Individuals who file workers’ compensation claims must also submit to an IME if requested by the employer or its insurance company. The doctor who performs the examination will not provide any medical treatment but simply give an opinion about causation and disability.

Insurance companies use the same doctors over and over again because they know what to expect. Our clients report these examinations take no more than 10-15 minutes. Some of these doctors make a career out of testifying for insurance companies.

We envision a world where a virtual doctor spends his or her entire day performing medical examinations for insurance companies. The virtual doctor could see dozens of people without regard to cost or geography. Imagine all the new cases my law firm is going to get!

Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation today.

Related information:

How insurance companies use IME doctors to abuse the workers comp system

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by IntelFreePress.

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