Oklahoma City, OK – Governor Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 878 this week adopting Work Loss Data Institute’s Official Disability Guidelines (ODG) as the standard for evidence-based medicine in determining scope and duration of medical treatment in workers’ compensation effective March 1, 2012. The measure passed unanimously in the Senate, 48-0, and won overwhelming approval, 88-8, in the House of Representatives.
The guidelines used previously in Oklahoma were consensus-based guidelines adapted by the state’s Physician Advisory Committee largely based on the Colorado Division of Workers’ Compensation’s Medical Treatment Guidelines. Effective since September 1st, 2007, under the previous guidelines workers’ comp costs escalated substantially, dropping Oklahoma’s rating nine spots between 2006 and 2010, making it the 4th most expensive state in the U.S., according to Oregon’s Department of Consumer & Business Services Workers’ Compensation Premium Rate Ranking. It took the election of a new Governor to change course, precipitating the need for ODG as a cornerstone of SB 878. “We promised that we were going to build a better environment for businesses, not only to retain jobs, but to grow jobs in the private sector in our state, and we delivered,” said Governor Fallin. “This one, I think, is a fine piece of legislation. It will help us not only retain jobs, but attract new industries while protecting the injured worker.”
The bill leaves the door open for the Physician Advisory Committee to draft additional guidelines that may be considered in addition to ODG for use on procedures that are not covered by ODG, or not recommended by ODG for areas related to the spine. While this was a compromise necessary to gain support for the bill, the bar is set very high, as additional guidelines would need approval by the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council, Administrator, and the Legislature, with review also by the Governor.
Adopting the current edition of ODG will enable Oklahoma to ensure the latest available medical evidence is used in making treatment decisions to improve outcomes for workers injured on the job. In addition, expenditures will remain focused on the goal of recovery and effective utilization of available medical services. Reforms in Oklahoma follow similar efforts in neighboring Kansas and Texas, where costs have come down and outcomes improved as a result of adopting ODG. To encourage its widespread use, Work Loss Data Institute is offering a substantial discount for healthcare providers operating in the state. Due to the importance of ongoing updates, online use is encouraged with a discount of 50% off, while the textbook set is available to residents for 25% off. To receive the discount, orders need only be placed using an Oklahoma address.
Oklahoma is the latest of many US States and Canadian Provinces to adopt ODG, as the movement towards evidence-based medicine in workers’ comp continues to gain momentum. Most unique about the ODG approach is that links are provided from each recommendation to the supporting medical evidence, provided in abstract form, so it can be consulted directly. In addition, ODG conducts a rigorous and ongoing update process. Finally, ODG is comprehensive and multidisciplinary in scope, covering conditions both acute and chronic, including virtually every therapy commonly used in workers’ comp, and representative of all medical specialties active in the system.
Asked about the decision to adopt ODG in Oklahoma, Phil Denniston, president of Work Loss Data Institute, replied, “We are especially pleased to see Oklahoma moving from consensus-based guidelines to an evidence-based approach. The move should benefit all stakeholders throughout the system, including healthcare providers, employers, workers’ comp insurers, and particularly injured workers, as the primary objective of ODG is improved patient outcomes through the restoration of function.”
Work Loss Data Institute is an independent database development company focused on workplace health and productivity based in Encinitas, California. The Official Disability Guidelines product line provides evidence-based medical treatment and disability duration guidelines to improve as well as benchmark outcomes in workers’ comp and non-occupational disability. ODG is available in Web-based, textbook and Systems Integration formats, used in all 50 states and worldwide. For more information, visit www.worklossdata.com or contact Work Loss Data Institute at 800-488-5548. Oklahoma residents can order ODG at the special price by calling 1-800-488-5548 or going to www.worklossdata.com/orderform_ok.htm.