Psychosocial Screening

Psychosocial Screening – ID the Risk early in Return to Work

Psychosocial screening early in the Return to Work process is critical to understand factors that impact injured workers. These factors play a critical role in the ability of injured or ill workers to recover in a timely way. They also make transitioning back to meaningful work difficult. Clinicians call this the biopsychosocial model of illness.

Biopsychosocial Model of Illness

Psychosocial Screening - Biopsychosocial Model of Illness

The model has been thoroughly researched and the statistics are numerous and compelling. First of all, mental illness in general is highly prevalent. One in five Americans suffer from a mental illness each year and the condition is responsible for 62% of missed work days. Of course the stresses of injury/illness exacerbate any pre-existing mental disorders.

As a result, these issues represent the number one barrier to successful claim outcomes, according to Rising Medical Solution’s 2016 benchmarking study. This study also indicated that psychosocial issues drive up medical costs far more than catastrophic injuries, mostly due to delayed recovery.

A Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine article revealed that workers with emotional distress, such as pain catastrophizing and activity avoidance, were seven times less likely than those in a lower-risk group to return to work within three months.

Consequently the early identification and mitigation of psychosocial risks is a priority in every lost-time claim. MyAbilities has a validated screening tool that is easy to use. This tool is built into MyAbilities’ ClaimX return-to-work platform.

Psychosocial Screening Questionnaire

Psychosocial Screening

We have adapted and automated a simple 13-question “yellow flag” screening tool which can be administered online. The responses instantly produce a quantified risk score indicating whether the claimant is at high, medium or low risk of psychosocial barriers to timely recovery.

The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly known as the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago), the premier rehabilitation facility in the U.S., has applied the questionnaire successfully. Additionally, Marwan Baliki, PhD., and Rami Jabakhanji, PhD, researchers at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, validated the questionnaire.

The report makes evidence-based recommendations for optimal psychosocial interventions. They are customized based on the pattern of claimant responses in the screening questionnaire.

Supported by Research

Has research confirmed the value of this type of approach to claim management? Yes, without any doubt.

Researchers have completed numerous studies and analysed outcomes. Therapeutic interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy have consistently demonstrated higher rates and shorter durations for Return to Work. Claim costs have been reduced by up to 50%. There is less utilization of medical treatments such as injections, imaging, physical therapy and surgery. ODG, a MyAbilities partner, recommends these treatment approaches.

Summary – The Importance of Psychosocial Screening

In summary, Myabilities offers a comprehensive, automated and proven methodology for the assessment and management of psychosocial comorbidities in the face of occupational or non-occupational claims. The tool identifies higher risk claims and makes recommendations on treatment. Learn more about how we expedite Return to Work here or click the Talk to an Expert button below.

Dr. Jacob Lazarovic, MD, FAAFP
Dr. Jacob Lazarovic, MD, FAAFP

Jake is the Chief Medical Officer for MyAbilities, and has over 35 years of senior medical administration/managed care experience.

Return to Work

Return to Work Expedited with MyAbilities

How is Return to Work expedited? MyAbilities recognized that the Return to Work (RTW) process for many employers and their claims managers has not fundamentally changed in decades. MyAbilities developed a new process to help expedite RTW over the last 3 years. The goals are to get employees back to work faster and to reduce the administrative burden and remove road blocks for the RTW specialist.

JobX Digital Job Profiles for Return to Work

JobX for Return to Work

At the heart of the process is the JobX Digital Job Profile (DJP). To learn more about its broader uses, refer to my earlier article here. Suffice it to say that clearly and quickly identifying the demands of the job is the fundamental first step in making a determination on the ability of the person to return to work.

In early pilots, using the JobX DJP database of over 50,000 job titles, we have seen a reduction in time required to get an approved Job Profile. The result? The average reduced from 22 business days down to 9. An employer approved one DJP in less than 30 minutes!

Return to work expedited with just one step!

Determine Causation, Occ vs Non-Occ

Causation Report
The Output from a causation report

The next step provides claims managers with an objective tool to determine compensability. A detailed questionnaire based on the specific injury guides the user through a process that assigns a score to occupational and non-occupational factors. The claims handler makes a defensible decision. Is the claim covered by workers compensation or disability insurance?

Psychosocial factors in Return to Work

There are standard guidelines for treatment and recovery times. However, the recovery time has wide variability that cannot be explained by the physical injury alone.

To help understand if there are psychosocial factors that may complicate the recovery process, MyAbilities has a psychosocial questionnaire built in.

Users identify higher risk cases based on their score. The claims manager can then address these cases with the healthcare team to the benefit of both the employee and the employer.

(Read more about psychosocial impacts here)

The power of digital = Job Matching

In the last step, the true value of having JobX Digital Job Profiles shows itself. The system generates a Functional Abilities questionnaire. The form can be quickly filled in online by clinicians and is based on the specific demands of the pre-injury job.

Once the form is completed, job matching can be done to the JobX DJP and any areas of limitation or restriction are flagged. If there are none, the employee is ready to return to work. If there are, can the employer modify the job to address those issues? Or if a database of other jobs has been created, is there another job at the employer that the person can return to?

Job-matching makes identification easy in a quick and easy to view interface. The goal is to get the injured worker back to work as quickly as possible. This could be to their pre-injury job, a modified duty job or another one in the employer’s database.


Leverage 21st century tools to expedite Return to Work. Online, big data and matching algorithms make MyAbilities a unique solution for a difficult process.

This powerful tool revolutionizes management of the return to work process. To learn more, visit or talk to one of our experts to see if this solution can work for you. Finally, for further reading, click here, or to learn more about MyAbilities, visit our website.

Dr. Jacob Lazarovic, MD, FAAFP
Dr. Jacob Lazarovic, MD, FAAFP

Jake is the Chief Medical Officer for MyAbilities, and has over 35 years of senior medical administration/managed care experience.

Use Collaboration, Technology for ADA Compliance and Positive Return to Work Outcomes

May 28, 2019 BY AMAXX / Michael B. Stack

Returning an injured worker to the job before he’s physically ready can be a nightmare. The last thing an employer wants to do is put the employee at risk of reinjury.

On the other hand, waiting to bring an employee back until he is 100 percent recovered prolongs the number of lost work days and impedes the worker’s recovery. Reinjuries, as well as extended disability durations both, add costs to the claim.

What’s needed is an accurate depiction of the physical requirements of a job, along with a deep understanding of exactly what the injured worker is physically able to do or not do. Armed with such information, the employer can make the best decisions for the injured worker and the organization.