Virtual Options for the Newly Remote Workforce

By Brett Sanders MS, OTR/L, CEAS, regional manager of WorkStrategies, Select Medical

Virtual and remote access to products and services has dominated our lives for the past year. The pandemic has propelled innovation, quality and higher effectiveness for remote services and the results are not going away anytime soon. From meetings and physician appointments to classroom learning, food delivery and shopping – it’s all been remote. The Select Medical Outpatient Division has enabled clients and patients to access all of our essential programs and services virtually. Select Medical now offers virtual physical therapy appointments, early symptom intervention, ergonomics and WorkRisk Analysis using HIPAA compliant remote technology solutions.

As millions of American’s transitioned to remote work due to the pandemic, the need for other virtual solutions became apparent beyond telerehab. Employer’s report that 46% will keep employees working remotely or offer a hybrid opportunity to satisfy the overwhelming desire of 96% of employees wanting to continue to have that flexibility. It seems remote working is here to stay and so are Select Medical’s remote solutions.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused many employees to pivot from working in an office with proper, ergonomically-designed equipment to working from home. In many cases, home office workstations do not allow proper body mechanics and posture. The shift to home office workstations has caused employers to assess the ergonomic needs of employees while working from home.

An improper home workstation set-up and lack of training can contribute to the following:

  • Awkward postures
  • Lack of focus on timely ergonomic rest breaks
  • Not seeking early interventions for musculoskeletal discomfort
  • Productivity and concentration can be adversely impacted due to poor ergonomics and body mechanics

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) account for one-third of all occupational injuries and illnesses reported to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) by employers every year. It is anticipated the number will climb due to the work from home orders issued and still in place in many states across the country.

OSHA has a General Duty Clause addressing ergonomics short of the standard that was proposed in 1996: “Furnish a place of employment that is fee from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.” OSHA also has a similar clause to mandating a first aid program for work related injuries and illness. Select Medical helps employers meet these mandates through ergonomics and early symptom intervention (ESI) programs, both of which can be provided in the place of employment or through a distance model using telehealth applications. ESI can also be provided in Select Medical’s outpatient centers throughout the country.

WorkStrategies has successfully managed ergonomic concerns remotely using distant online HIPAA compliant technology dating back to pre-pandemic times in 2017.

Our experience with a large insurance customer who has a large home-based work force demonstrates a 94% resolve rate without being face-to-face with the employee. The program educates employees on posture, body mechanics and ergonomics to addresses discomfort. During the assessment we empower the employee with knowledge of how to adjust their own chair, monitor height and workstation to make it more comfortable and ergonomically sound. Counter force stretches for static postures are taught and equipment, if needed, is recommended.

Employers have a constant need to help resolve aches, pains and musculoskeletal complaints. The ESI program is the best way to manage musculoskeletal complaints and drive down both costs and claims onsite, virtually or center-based. Management of symptoms through ESI mirror our success with ergonomics with resolve rates between 90 and 98% depending on the industry and employer. We have the solution you’ve been looking for in a provider. Contact us today to discuss how we can best help you and your employees.

Author: Brett Sanders MS, OTR/L, CEAS, regional manager of WorkStrategies, Select Medical

Complimentary Webinar:

Join us on May 13 at 12:30 p.m. for a one hour complimentary webinar on ergonomics and injury prevention approved for CCM, nurse and Florida adjuster CEU credit. Register today: