Connecting Health & Productivity

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The WorkRx Group, Ltd has joined Syracuse University’s Buton Blatt Institute in a series of return to work and health care cost reduction research projects

The RTW Study - Currently in progress

We are collaborating with the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University on a unique return-to-work study (RTW).   The BBI is a university-based research and education center focusing on the development of employment opportunities for individuals with a disability.   The Institute is interested in areas critical to our organization, our claimants and our corporate customers.  The BBI study purpose is to understand more about how employers manage the return-to-work process for employees with a disability.  Specifically, the study asks this research question:   

What are the influences that lead an employer to implement or not implement a formal return-to-work program?

 Ken Mitchell serves as the moderator for the BBI’s Employment Research Consortium (ERC), a group of health and disability insurers, as well as employers, who advises BBI on its research program. The study criteria are:

        A.      Employer is in one of the following industry groups:  Healthcare, manufacturing, construction, financial/insurance, education, utilities, transportation/trucking, service, mining and retail.  We will also include public/municipal employers. 

        B.      The primary target employers will have a workforce between 250 to 10,000 employees with some type of insurance product (e.g. WC, STD, VWB or LTD) coverage with us. There are no well defined high or lower limits to work force size other than employers under 100 employees may not have the level of lost time to consider a formal return-to-work program. However, we are interested in understanding more about the decision process used by small to medium size employers (250 to  1,500 EE's)

        C.       The customer/employer has a readily  accessible   contact person to complete the internet based survey


All information will be confidential, only reported in the aggregate by industry and work force size. There is no cost to participate. The survey will be available on line until January 31, 2012.  The final report will be available early Q2 2012.

 Please feel free to familiarize yourself with the RTW Study Web site   and if you are an employer please complete the survey by going to   

Healthcare Innovation Challenge Submitted January 27 for funding (June 2012 - May 2015)    Productive Aging & Healthcare Cost Containment Program will be conducted in Partnership with Cigna Corporation, Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Department of Economics

Productive Aging Model offers a collaborative or shared decision making process to: 1.   protect and enhance the productivity of the aged worker (> 50 years of age), 2, reduce health care costs and unnecessary utilization The model is based on a program service center template that collaborates with an existing health care network linked with insurers and employers of all sizes and industry.  The development and application of the Productive Aging Center Model will

 Create an innovative shared decision making service model that will deliver service /payment improvements leading to better health, better health care, and lower costs through improved quality for Medicare, Medicaid enrollees.

Create new and Increase existing employment and productivity opportunities for individuals over the age of 50.

Increase service and communication and information sharing  efficiencies between collaborating healthcare service providers, insurers,  employer  and consumers


Rationale:  Health and productivity are connected. Productive and healthy aging are synonymous. While this may be intuitive, employers, health and disability insurers, as well as health-care providers, separate health and productivity services into independent, often-competing functions or business silos. This is an inefficient and expensive process.  Reducing health care utilization and costs are not able to be achieved through a single strategy but require collaborative innovation

 Productive aging strategies begin with access to, and timely application of, focused prevention and restorative health-care services.

 The prevention of disease, the control of eroding work capacity due to chronic impairments, and the protection of the functional capacities of strength, flexibility and endurance are critical.

 Individuals in the target participant group (>50 years old) have the highest medical and disability, Medicare and Medicaid costs. The highest cases are related to musculoskeletal disorders.  Research indicates that protecting and extending the work life of the individual reduces unnecessary use of the healthcare system, as well as lowering unnecessary medical expenditures.

 The foundation for productive aging initiatives can be grouped into five health and productivity focused strategies:

 1. Protect the individual's physical, emotional and financial well being

 2. Delay and minimize the impact of chronic disease and impairment

 3. Protect and enhance the work capacity and skills of the older workforce

 4. Align and coordinate the employer  and health care providers to achieve an accurate assessment of impairment and  create a well defined pathways to continued employment and  engagement in productive activities

 5. Provide incentives for individuals, employers, health care providers and health/disability insurers to engage in productive aging programs.



Mitchell, K. Dance of the Invisible Impairments: Chronic Pain and the Disability Insurance Industry: American Society of Chronic Pain, Fall Newsletter, September, 2000

Mitchell, K. Integrated Disability Management, Negotiating the Politics of Integrated Disability Management, Journal of Worker’s Compensation, Vol. 11, No. 3, spring 2002

Mitchell, K. Managing the Psychological Side of Injury & Illness: Become a "Coping Coach"   Athletic Therapy Today, December, 2003

*Mitchell, K. Managing Lost Time in the Health Care Industry, Outcomes and Impacts, Unum October, 2004

*Mitchell, K. The Aging American Workforce: Realities & Opportunities Outcomes & Impacts, Unum July, 2005.

Mitchell, K   Productive Aging: A New Life Stage, WorldatWork Journal, Publisher, WorldatWork, and January - March, 2006

Mitchell, K     Lost Time Predictors:   The Employer’s Guide to Managing the Health & Productivity Connection  Outcomes & Impacts Unum Spring   2006.

Mitchell, K   Creating New Horizons: Productive Aging as a Corporate Strategy,  WorldatWork Journal, Publisher, WorldatWork,   fall, 2006*Mitchell, K. Social Security Administration Compassionate Allowance Outreach Hearing for Cancers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, Massachusetts Testimony - April 7, 2008

Mitchell, K. Unmotivated? or Just Stuck! Disability Management Employer Coalition @ Work, May, 2010

Mitchell, K. Behavioral Health & Disability Insurance:  A Perspective in The Handbook of Behavioral Health Disability: Innovations in Prevention and Management, Pamela Warren, Ph.D. Editor, Springer Publishing, October, 2010

Mitchell, K.; Byrum, Steven; Judgment Matters: Applications of the Judgment Index, An AHIP Podcast, July 1, 2010, Podcast Homepage

Mitchell, K.   Going Beyond: An Employers’ Guide to Cancer Survivorship, Unum, spring, 2008

Mitchell, K The Motivaton Paradox: Work, Disability and Being Stuck, Keynote address to Hawaii SHRM Chapter, July, 2009

Mitchell, K.   Social Security Administration Compassionate Allowance Outreach Hearing for Cancers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, Massachusetts Testimony - April 7, 2008

Health and Productivity Blueprints Help Companies Avoid the Bureaugenic Disability Trap Dr. Kenneth Mitchell and Renee Mattaliano

Mitchell, K. Impaired, Disabled or Just Stuck: Managing Ambivalence and Resistance to Return to Work, Summer  2011

Mitchell, K. How to Prevent Light Duty as a Career Path, Summer 2011

Mitchell, K Health and Productivity Connections: Thinking Differently about Retention, Turnover and Lost time     White Paper, WorkRx Group, Ltd, December, 2011   (article attached)

 Adya. Meera, JD, Ph.D, Cirka, Carol, Ph.D.& Mitchell, Kenneth, Ph.D.Final Report Corporate Return to Work Policies and Practices: A National Study, June 2012

A three part series for Professional Case Management, the official Journal of the Case Management Society of America (cannot attach articles in that they will be all protected by the publisher, any copies or reprints will have to come from the publisher.)

Mitchell K. Just Stuck! Managing Ambivalence and Resistance to Going Back to Work,  Professional Case Management, Vol 17 #1 , January/February, 2012

Mitchell, K. Staying Stuck!   The Case Manager's Predicament,   Professional Case Management, Vol 17 #2, March/April, 2012

Mitchell, K.  Getting Unstuck! A New Way of Thinking,  Professional Case Management, Vol 17 #3 ,  May/June, 2012




*Publications sponssored by Unum US, Portland, ME