IR #99-19
Tuesday, November 9, 1999

Richard Stephens
(415) 703-4680

DIR Receives Grant to Help Improve Medical Care for Injured Workers

SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Department of Industrial Relations, in conjunction with the California Public Health Institute, is launching a one-year project to plan a new resource center aimed at improving the quality of medical care for injured workers in California's workers' compensation system.

The proposed California Work Injury Resource Center would be jointly operated by the department's Division of Workers' Compensation, Industrial Medical Council, and Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation.

Funded by a grant from the Workers' Compensation Health Initiative, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the planning process will include a series of focus groups, a telephone survey, a literature review and a workshop.

The focus groups will be conducted with labor groups, employers, providers, judges, and insurers to explore four basic questions: what are their concerns about the quality of workers' compensation medical care; what improvements in quality of care would be most valued; what role do various stakeholders play in improving care; and what kinds of external resources would be most useful in enhancing quality of improvement efforts.

The telephone survey will cover California's largest workers' compensation claims administrators and occupational medicine provider networks. It will be conducted to ascertain the nature of existing quality of care improvement efforts.

The literature review will attempt to identify successful quality improvement interventions and evaluations.

The final element of the process calls for DIR to co-sponsor, along with the U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, an invitational workshop about quality of care in the state's workers' compensation system.

The $81,079 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is one of three made nationwide during 1999 by the philanthropic organization's Workers' Compensation Health Initiative to improve the quality of medical care provided to persons with occupational injuries and illnesses. The other two went to projects to be conducted by the state of Rhode Island and the University of Texas' School of Public Health.

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