COHE Project Continues to Evolve
January 10, 2008
Spokane’s St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute is the sponsor and home-base for what is now known as the “Eastern Washington Center of Occupational Health & Education (COHE).” It now has over 730 participating physicians and providers in 16 Eastern Washington Counties – and is processing over 1,300 L&I State Fund claims a month.
“The Washington State Dept of L&I allowed us to expand to our originally proposed catchment area (including Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan Counties), and due to the desires of statewide business and labor leaders, we also included Yakima County,” states Dr. Dan Hansen, the COHE Project Director. “And, although we have stopped active recruitment, we are confronted with new interest by additional family practices and hospitals – the word about COHE is spreading.”
The COHE has exceeded expectations
“Fine tuning is the next step for COHE,” says Dr. Gary Franklin, medical director for Washington State Labor & Industries. “The University of Washington study completed in 2006 and updated in spring 2007, clearly showed COHE’s success in reducing disability and returning injured workers to the job.” “We have shown a 20-25 percent reduction in disability by using the COHE model and occupational health best practices. We want to double that number in the next two years,” said Dr. Franklin. “The COHE has exceeded my expectations. One reason is we’ve dramatically improved the timeliness of the worker being seen and returning to the work place through appropriate early action and better communication between the work place, the physician, and L&I.”
Opportunities for Employers
The E WA COHE project also has about 700 participating employers that benefit from real-time communication, claim alerts, and information exchange with providers and COHE staff through the web-based information tracking system known as Athena. Employers are reporting that the time it takes to know of an on-the-job injury and work status has essentially been cut in half on their injured workers. Mike Bolander, HR Director for Columbia Colstor in Moses Lake reports, “The COHE has had a significant favorable impact on the cost drivers for our industrial insurance premium.”
Employers in the 16 county catchment area of the COHE project wishing to participate can contact the COHE office for more information.