Rehab Select Blog

Communicating with a Patient About At-Work Injury Rehab

Posted by Bobby Stephenson

Mar 29, 2023 8:00:00 AM

Communicating with a Patient About At-Work Injury Rehab

Nurse case managers play a critical role in work injury rehab. But how can you ensure a patient recovers as quickly as possible while keeping the medical costs down? 

Effective communication is essential in helping patients understand what they can expect from at-work injury rehab so that they'll follow their treatment plans and achieve the best outcomes in a timely manner.  

But it's not always easy to navigate the complex dynamics when so many parties are involved. Here's what you need to know to communicate with your patients effectively every step of the way during work injury rehab care.

Tips for Effective Communication About Work Injury Rehab

1. Establish Rapport 

Patients are more likely to follow advice from those they like and trust. Your first step is often cultivating positive relationships with them during at-work injury rehab. Explain your role as a nurse case manager and how you'll facilitate their recovery based on their physicians' recommendations. Also, address any fears or concerns to make them feel comfortable sharing information with you. 

2. Reiterate Physician Instructions

The rehab process has many moving parts — from medication adherence to physical therapy — that can be overwhelming for a patient. Moreover, some people aren't comfortable questioning their physicians. When the doctor leaves the room, they may still be wondering what they're supposed to do. 

As a nurse case manager, you can help a patient understand the next steps by reiterating the doctor's treatment plan and explaining the importance of following the instructions in easy-to-understand terms to encourage compliance.

3. Stay in Your Lane

While you should be available to answer questions and help patients understand their care teams' instructions, don't provide treatment recommendations, direct care, or give advice. Workers' comp can turn into a litigious situation at times — be careful not to overstep your role and always follow the guidelines from the Board of Nursing. 

4. Be the Advocate and Encourager

Encourage compliance by celebrating progress with your patients and motivating them with success stories. For example, describe the typical day of a patient who has completed at-work injury rehab — how they worked closely with the nurse case manager, understood and followed the treatment plan, showed up for meetings, and reported their progress.

5. Encourage Accountability 

Ensure your patients understand they're accountable for their recovery and explain the consequences of not following the doctor's instructions. Help them focus on the treatment goals and spell everything out. For example, they won't get better if they don't comply with the plan. The insurance company won't keep paying for their physical therapy, and they may even get cut off from other benefits.    

6. Communicate with Family Members

Family members can play a critical role in encouraging the patient and facilitating the treatment plan (e.g., taking the patient to physical therapy and setting up the home environment to support recovery.) They can be a strong ally in ensuring that the patient cooperates throughout the process.  

Help families understand the importance of complying with the doctor's instructions and give them the information they need to become part of the recovery journey. Invite them to meetings, build relationships with them, and encourage them to ask questions and share their concerns.   

7. Address Concerns Promptly

Work injury rehab can be challenging. Some patients may complicate care with irrelevant requests. However, you should pay attention and listen carefully to identify valid concerns — if these are issues that should be communicated to their care team, be sure to do so in a timely manner.  

Respond as promptly as possible and try to return all phone calls within 24 hours. Responsiveness shows the patients that you care to foster trust and stronger relationships with them.

8. Remain Objective in Your Communications

Don't let your personal opinions or subjective views cloud your patient communication. Also, don't let the judgment of other aspects of a patient's life impact your role in helping them navigate at-work injury rehab and improving their treatment outcomes. Stay neutral, stick to the facts, and advocate for the patient's best interest. 

9. Use Evidence to Navigate Challenges

Unfortunately, you may encounter patients who sabotage their own progress to avoid returning to work. Also, you may not be able to communicate directly with patients who have legal representation to get to the bottom of an issue. To navigate these challenges, you may collect and present objective evidence so the adjuster or care team can intervene.   

Work Injury Treatment Near Me That Supports Effective Patient Communication

Not all work injury rehab facilities are created equal. Choose one that understands the importance of patient communication and provides the appropriate support to help you navigate key relationships that impact care.  

At Rehab Select, we have worked with nurse case managers extensively and understand what they need to do their best work for high-quality work injury treatment in Alabama. 

We distribute weekly reports to help you monitor a patient's progress and handle concerns promptly. You can raise any issues with a single point of contact and rest assured that the right person in the care team will address them. Additionally, we provide private meeting spaces for nurse case managers to meet with their patients 1:1 for candid and productive conversations. 

Learn more about our Alabama-based workers' comp physical therapy program and get in touch to see how we can help you facilitate your patients' recovery. 


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Topics: Inpatient Rehab, Workers Compensation