What is integrated disability management?

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When it comes to managing your workforce, employers must be more proactive. By shifting the focus away from waiting until an employee reports a disability to catching it before a claim is even filed, you can save time, money and valuable productivity. One way to make this happen is to take an integrated approach to disability management. Here’s how.

Integrated Disability Management (IDM), not surprisingly, is all about integrating all your coverage options. By bringing various pieces of disability management together, such as short-term disability (STD), long-term disability (LTD), workers’ compensation (WC) and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you can be more efficient when it comes to the cost and administration of your plan overall. What’s more, the employee often has a better “customer experience,” according to the Disability Management Employer Coalition.[1]

IDM programs can provide an early intervention, support common case management and support formal return-to-work programs. Integration also allows for improved tracking of disability data. This will allow you to identify trends and can help you build prevention strategies.

Advantages to integrating benefits can range from financial to operational.

Financial:

  • Direct program cost savings
  • Reduced lost time
  • Fewer absences

Operational:

  • Improved tracking of claims and employee absences
  • Simplified process for you and the employee
  • Increased overall employee satisfaction

Getting started
The scope of integrating benefits programs generally warrants a phased approach because of associated costs, feasibility and staffing concerns. To start, prioritize the most immediate issues. Common pain points may include:

  • Health care costs
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Consistent administration
  • Reducing absenteeism

Start small with an IDM approach before progressing to a Total Absence Management (TAM) philosophy. TAM addresses all employee absences regardless of reason and provides a process for identifying and managing the root cause of absence.

Ultimately, the concept of Health and Productivity Management (HPM) may be adopted. HPM includes a health and wellness component into disability and absence management. The goal of HPM is to support the coordination of effective treatment to reduce the duration of disability.

Taking that first step with an IDM strategy can put you on the path to having a healthier and more productive workforce — the ultimate win-win!

[1] Disability Management Employer Coalition. Tools of the Trade: A Compilation of Programs and Processes for the Absence, Disability, Health, and Productivity Professional. Disability Management Employer Coalition Inc.; 2009.

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