Telephonic support can facilitate return to work

The government has published its findings on the potential value of using telephone services to provide health and return-to-work support.

Its Telephonic support to facilitate return to work: what works, how and when? report aims to provide an evidence base for the use of telephonic assessment and support to facilitate timely return to work for employees with common health problems.

The telephonic support is part of the government’s Health and Work Service, launched in January 2013.

The report found:

  • There is robust evidence that telephonic approaches can be suitable for assessment of individuals’ needs and can compare favourably to face-to-face methods.
  • There is robust evidence that telephonic case management can support people with common health problems through care pathways, monitor progress and facilitate return to work. It can contain overall costs by reducing delays and optimising referrals.
  • There is adequate evidence that relevant information and advice, including self-management techniques, can be effectively delivered by telephone.

The report concluded: “Telephonic approaches using assessment and triage, along with coordination of the key players, can be effective at reducing the number of sickness episodes, the number of days lost and the overall cost of a case or claim.

“The important caveat is that this applies when services are well designed and implemented, and are staffed by professionals who have appropriate training and support.”