A recent trucking industry article illustrates how attention to medical records can help mitigate costs and maybe even prevent claims associated with musculoskeletal injuries (MSD).  “Baseline Testing Provides a Win” tells the story of how a long-haul trucking company based in the Midwest created baseline medical data on its drivers and compared it to data from a claimant’s post-injury condition.

First, a little background.  MSD claims are on the uptick as our workforce continues to age and the changing demands of work take their toll.  This is especially true in the trucking industry, where the rate of MSD cases for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers is more than three times greater than the rate for all private sector workers.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines musculoskeletal injuries as injuries or disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints and cartilage.  Sudden exertion or prolonged exposure to physical factors contribute.

As the article notes:

Companies are faced with increasing exposure from MSD claims, not only from state regulations but from compliance with federal mandates that increase potential exposure for these types of injuries.

Many drivers maintain a poor diet, rarely get enough sleep and are sedentary. As a result, they find themselves more susceptible to heart attacks and diabetes, as well as a myriad of strains, sprains and other musculoskeletal disorders. Additionally, the percentage of older workers is higher in transportation than in most industries.  [A]s many as 25% of truck drivers will be older than 65 by 2025….

So, how did a long-haul trucking company ­– with markets throughout the U.S. and Canada –­ use medical records to improve its bottom line? The article details how

Marten Transport needed to provide better care for MSD injuries while not accepting liability for injuries occurred outside the scope of work.

According to the article, Marten put an EFA Soft Tissue Management (EFA-STM) program in place in February 2015 to determine which injuries were work-related and which were not, as well as to provide better care.  The company’s workers’ comp claims manager reported that Marten uses the EFA-STM “as a fact-finding tool to help us, our employees and their medical providers better understand the nature of their injury and determine the best course of action going forward.”

Workers get a baseline test, and, after a reported injury, a second test is conducted. That claim-related data is compared with the baseline test to identify the new acute condition, distinct from any pre-existing chronic conditions.

The bottom line

The company compared workers’ compensation claims data from 2010-2014 to its claims data from 2015, the year that Marten implemented the EFA-STM program.  The result was a 60 percent drop in the rate of MSD injuries per 100 hires in 2015. This translated into almost 40 fewer MSD claims in 2015. Using the 2010-14 average cost per MSD claim, the EFA-STM program yielded a direct ROI of 3.7: 1.

Take-aways

The EFA-STM program is a big shift in workers compensation.  It provides bottom-line benefits by accurately separating work-related injuries from those that are not work-related and by providing objective information…which translates into better care for the work-related condition. The EFA-STM program helps determine the physical condition of the employee before the incident and what needs to be done to return them to pre-injury status.

Here are four action steps for you to take when considering an EFA-STM program for your company:Investigate the baseline EFA-STM model to determine if it’s right you

Quick response with all EE injuries is a must, as is improved overall baseline health awareness

Early nurse involvement/case management can effectively control claims

Look to industry for other innovations to help with workers comp claims/injuries

Finally, whether it’s workers comp claims or some other health care cost, MKC Medical Management has nearly 30 year of experience helping businesses nationwide.  Contact John Moberly (john@mkcmedicalmanagement.com) to talk about your needs and to explore how we can help.

KARI