Neck and back pain can not only put a strain on those who suffer from it but also their employers if they need to take frequent time off work for doctors' appointments and numerous physiotherapy sessions. This dent to productivity could be something businesses want to avoid in light of the economic downturn.
Mark Sharpe, clinical development manager at Aviva UK Health, explains why the Back-Up service can allow those with neck and back pain to receive expert medical advice within two hours.
More than 80 per cent of people in the UK will suffer from back problems at some point in their lives, while a third of the population currently suffers with some sort of neck or back complaint. Musculoskeletal injuries feature in the top five most common cause of sickness absence - back pain alone causes an estimated five million working days to be lost every year.
Back pain costs the UK economy more than £12 billion annually in sickness benefits, medical costs and productivity. However, Mr Sharpe says that productivity can be improved should businesses decide to include Aviva's Back-Up service in their approach to employee occupational health.
He says the most common route individuals with neck and back pain take is to contact their GP, who may write them a prescription for painkillers and refer them for a course of physiotherapy or osteopathy. Sometimes they may also sign the employee off sick for a period of time.
Workers whose employers offer the Back-Up service can contact Aviva directly, which will arrange for their dedicated Back-Up team at Health and Case Management Limited (HCML) to speak to them and assess their condition within two hours. HCML are experts in managing back conditions and are backed by a medical advisory board of international experts who are recognised experts in this field.
The phone call will take approximately 15 minutes and the dedicated HCML clinical case managers will assess the problem and recommend an individually tailored treatment plan which will focus on a speedy recovery and return to work where appropriate. Mr Sharpe says that providing the most appropriate advice and treatment focussed on the client's needs at the earliest opportunity not only speeds recovery, but has also demonstrated a reduction in the number of treatment sessions required.
Not all individuals will require physiotherapy and the HCML clinical case managers will, in all cases, offer a number of ways that people can help alleviate problems themselves, which in some cases may solve neck and back pain.
Should physiotherapy be needed then results from Aviva's corporate customers have revealed that through the Back-Up service the number of physiotherapy sessions required have been cut by 37.5 per cent. Mr Sharpe states that while traditionally Aviva has observed back pain may need around eight sessions, this can be reduced to between four and five good quality sessions by using Back-Up. Back-Up can cut absence rates and manage private medical insurance costs more effectively
Half of employees who used the Back-Up service said it prevented them from going absent or being unable to carry out some of their duties. Of the 25 per cent who were off work before using the service, all returned to work after getting the right treatment through Back-Up.
Mr Sharpe states that while the tailored treatment can reduce absence rates as neck and back pain can be dealt with quickly and more effectively, companies are better able to manage their private medical insurance costs.
Rather than paying for treatment which does not work and therefore further GP and physiotherapy consultations are needed, corporate customers which use Aviva's Back-Up service could be reassured to know that their insurance is covering exactly what treatment is required.
As Mr Sharpe summarises: "Back-Up offers numerous benefits for all parties - the individual recovers quicker whilst employers benefit from reduced sickness absence costs and a more actively managed medical insurance scheme."
He adds that there is still a deep routed tradition of people using their GPs as the first port of call and this is a cultural factor that the service seeks to challenge in an effort to make access to expert help more readily available at the earliest opportunity.
However, companies and employees should be reassured to hear that the GPs of those using Back-Up will be made aware of their patient's involvement in the service, while the case managers at HCML also continually monitor and review progress of treatment.
Making GPs aware of the process could also prove useful to those individuals who have neck or back pain but are reluctant to take time off work to visit the doctors because they feel it will impact upon their workload. By talking to HCML case managers at a time convenient for them, employees will need to take as minimal time off as possible because the treatment will be tailored to their specific needs so time will not be wasted on ineffective sessions.
The Back-Up service is part of Aviva's small business private health insurance for between 2-249 employees. With a range of flexible options, cover can suit your employees and your budget. Back-Up is only available if the GP Referred Service option is chosen.
To discuss how private health insurance can work for your business and for a premium quote call 0800 142 2226. Alternatively visit http://www.aviva.co.uk/health/business-health-and-employee-protection/small-business-private-health-insurance/
for more information.Aviva Risk Management Solutions could also help with musculoskeletal disorder management
Aviva Risk Management Solutions (ARMS) offers an in-company Managing Musculoskeletal Risks training course which furthers the knowledge and understanding of employers to make meaningful assessments of risks to their employees, as well as highlighting the measures to put in place to minimise the impact of back problems and to prevent injury.
The use of techniques which employees can use to look after their own health during repetitive and manual handling tasks is also advised upon.
Manual handling training is also offered by ARMS so employers can meet their responsibilities under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992.
Further information about these courses can be found by contacting ARMS on 0500 55 99 77.