It’s Only Words
“It’s only words.” The Bee Gees knew what they were singing about.
When my company first began managing workers’ compensation claims some 30 years ago, we saw a ton of complex hand procedures. The surgeons we encountered were exceptional physicians who did remarkable things on an operating table. However, sometimes their bedside manner was less than optimal.
Typically, they overwhelmed the claimant with details of the invasive procedure, possible downsides, optional subsequent need to operate, difficult and painful recovery, and long-term rehabilitation. What the patient heard was, “I’m disabled and will never be the same.”
Then we found a young surgeon with a different approach. When first meeting a claimant, his initial words were, “I see you living a normal life and going back to full duty on June 30.” From there, he worked backwards highlighting the positive milestones of the recovery period. What the patient heard was, “I’m going to be okay.” What a difference a few words can make.
I’m linking to an article by Louise Esola in Business Insurance about a recent presentation at the California Workers’ Compensation and Risk Conference. The presenter focused on improving outcomes by having physicians, adjusters and employers communicate differently with their workers.
Reassure, don’t frighten. Empower, don’t undermine. Help, don’t create distance.
Words do matter.
Call us. We can do better.