Case management can cut absence time: study

A U.S. study on disability management for behaviour conditions suggests that case management results in cost savings and fewer sick days for employers.

The study, carried out by Aetna’s Disability and Absence Management Services, was done to measure the impact behavioural health clinicians have in managing disabling psychological conditions.

It found that employees on short-term disability (STD) due to a behavioural health condition, who have their disability claims managed, average 11 fewer days on STD when compared to an industry benchmark.

For employers in the study, the result translates into an average cost avoidance of $1,177 per claim when compared to the benchmark. For employees, the study demonstrates that behavioural health case management can improve both their physical and mental health, while helping them return to work sooner.

Industry data show that patients with behavioural health disorders who do not receive treatment or who are not properly managed by a specialty physician often have trouble returning to work. They also may stay out of work longer than what is recommended for psychological well-being.

“Behavioural health conditions can be difficult to treat. They often involve multiple physicians, frequent interventions and complex medication management,” says Adele Spallone, clinical services head with Aetna Disability and Absence Management Services.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the most common disorders in working populations are depression, anxiety and substance abuse. One in 10 adults reports having symptoms of depression, which can result in increased work absenteeism, STD and decreased productivity.