The Konekt market report will be the largest of its type providing significant insight into the Australian landscape from the perspective of a national rehabilitation provider. The data has been analysed by governing scheme, against socio-economic data, by injury type and service type. Additionally, with a large pool of non-compensable cases being referred for return to work services, we’ve reported on these two data sets against a number of metrics. We believe this is the first time data of this nature has been made available in Australia.
Konekt has partnered with one of Australia’s most experienced and respected researchers and personal injury management consultants in the area of workers compensation, Cortex Solutions, to analyse the data and to ensure the integrity of the findings.
The Konekt Market Report is the most comprehensive review of both compensable and non-compensable cases in Australia which allows a genuine insight into the impacts on costs, durations and outcomes. Internationally the evidence of the benefits of early referral impacting on return to work outcomes is strong. This experience is supported by the Konekt data. One of the key findings is that early referrals result in more successful return to work outcomes and also result in a decreased period of rehabilitation services. This second point is important as research suggests the less time people spend in the system, the better their health and return to work outcomes.
The non-compensable outcomes are more favourable than the compensable outcomes with the main contributory factor appearing to be early referral. Other contributory factors are likely to be the lack of delays caused by being in the workers’ compensation system and the more holistic preventative approach taken by employers.
In addition to providing improved return to work outcomes, early referral results in a lower cost service with the average cost incurred per successful return to work being significantly lower. This point is critical for scheme viability and premium stability, however the Australian market is largely immature in its use of genuine early intervention strategies and tools.
Emerging from the data is a new look at workplace psychological injury, again with the ability to review both compensable and non-compensable cases from some of Australia’s largest employers. We see a significant difference between the data sets with almost three times more referrals for mental injuries in the non-compensable data.
A recent report into the incidence of accepted workers’ compensation claims for mental stress in Australia by Safe Work Australia revealed a downward trend in mental injury cases. The report suggests that, “It is difficult to know how many employees experience mental stress at any given time because the workers’ compensation data is administrative data collected from accepted workers’ compensation claims. It does not include any information on unsuccessful claims, any insight into the number of workers who experience mental stress but choose not to claim workers’ compensation or on workers who are not covered by compensation. This means that the workers’ compensation data are skewed towards those workers who are more likely to claim based on their occupation, age, industry of employer, and where they have secure employment.”1
Additionally, the report suggests that, “There are a number of factors that may explain the recent downward trend in successful workers’ compensation claims for mental disorders caused by work-related mental stress. Research has found North American employees deferred claiming compensation because they feared job loss (Institute for Work & Health 2009). This may also apply to Australian employees who have experienced job insecurity because of their precarious work status. Around one-fifth of Australia’s workforce are employees without leave entitlements (casual) who do not have permanent job security (LaMontagne et al. 2010b; and van Wanrooy et al. 2009). However, the proportion of workers casually employed in Australia has remained relatively constant at about 20% of the workforce since 1999 (ABS 2012, p. 2)”.1
The Konekt Market Report is most comprehensive review of both compensable and non-compensable cases in Australia which allows a genuine insight into the impacts on costs,durations and outcomes.
This leads us to ask what the real incidence of mental injuries may be. With significantly higher levels of claims in the non-compensable space we can’t necessarily assume that mental injuries are on the decline. Employers are obviously still grappling with this issue and whilst our data shows that those with mental injuries are being referred earlier than those with physical injuries the average delay to referral times are increasing. In the last financial year the average delay to referral was 24 weeks for non-compensable claims and 103 weeks for compensable claims.
Emerging from the data is a new look psychological injury, again with the ability to review both compensable and non-compensable cases from some of Australia’s largest employers. We see a significant differene between the data seta with almost three times more referrals for mental injuries in the non-compansable data.
Again this highlights the importance of early intervention. Successful return to work outcomes are being achieved across the board however those who returned to work on full or partial hours have an average delay to referral time of 34 weeks compared to 85 weeks for those who did not achieve a successful return to work.
To request a copy of the Konekt Market Report go to www.konekt.com.au/marketreport and register your details.
About Cortex Solutions
Cortex Solutions is a consulting, research and business solutions firm specializing in workplace health, disability management, employment services, personal injury claims and injury management. A core area of expertise is turning data and research into knowledge that can be used to improve business processes, to enhance claim and injury management capabilities and to build evidence based programs aimed at increasing employee productivity and reducing worker compensation premiums and claims cost.
One of the key finding is that early referrals result in more successful return to work outcomes and also result in a decreased period of rehabilitation services. This second point is important as research suggests the less time people send in the system, the better their health and return to work outcomes.
References 1 Safe Work Australia, (April 2013). “The Incidence of Accepted Workers’ Compensation Claims for Mental Stress in Australia”, pg vii – 2