Injury compensation schemes have important objectives to improve the health and return to work of their clients. These outcomes are also recognised as impacting both on scheme viability and client satisfaction. Researchers have supported the TAC to understand more about client health outcomes, and how they can be effectively measured.
A team of researchers led by Professor Alex Collie, CEO of ISCRR, began research on this topic with a review of other organisations in the sector (including major compensable/injury management organisations, private health insurers and Victorian metropolitan health services).
The objective of this study was to assess whether other organisations included client health outcomes as key performance indicators or organisational objectives, the methods by which they set and measured health outcome targets, the strategies used to improve them, and whether any of this information had the potential for use by the TAC.
Professor Collie was then joined by Ms Nina Ellis from the TAC on a separate project that sought to refine the content and design of the TAC's internally-developed client outcome survey (a telephone-based questionnaire designed to measure the self-assessed health and return to work status of clients with mild to moderate injuries).
Where to now?
The review of other organisations found that client health outcomes were then not listed as a KPI in the annual reports of any of the investigated organisations. Only seven of these organisations listed client outcomes as an objective and there was no information about the way in which health outcome targets are set or measured.
The findings from the additional client survey project were delivered directly to the TAC, and have since been utilised in the further development of TAC's client health surveys.
This project also resulted in a research report that effectively paints a picture of the injury outcome data sources available in Australia as of July 2011. The report acknowledges Victoria as a frontrunner in this respect (with the Victorian Orthopedic Trauma Outcomes Registry (VOTOR) and the Victorian State Trauma Registry (VSTR) acting as the main sources of published, long-term work and health related data in Australia) but also identifies several areas in which data collection is lacking, for example with regards to mild-to-moderate injuries, the costs associated with injury and complications secondary to injury, and the broader impact of injury on family and society.
The report recommends that the TAC partner with research and data organisations to focus on these areas, to benefit not only the TAC but also the injury community more broadly.
As part of their research, this team also produced a journal article proposing a more nuanced approach to measuring RTW rates; one that accounts for client motives and variable work participation levels.