Bryan Weichelt, PhD, Director of the Return to Work project was recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research with this innovative program.
Dates: 2012 – current
Serious, restrictive, non-fatal injuries are commonplace in large animal agriculture, including in pork and dairy production. The cost of workplace injuries in dairy production is unknown, but given the frequency of injury among workers in dairy, it is certainly a burden to the industry.
Clinicians in the primary care setting increasingly are the front line for treating occupational injuries and responsible for managing workers’ return to work. Primary care clinicians are often poorly equipped to mangage and treat occupational injuries and illness and have few resources to facilitate workers’ return to work.
The Return to Work project will create a mechanism to bring the realities of work on the farm to the clinic in a way that the clinician can review, understand and develop a transitional plan that will safely and promptly return the worker to the workplace.
- Develop a collection of tasks in dairy and pork.
- Convert and integrate Physical and Occupational Therapists’ unstructured narrative data into structured data.
- Design and pilot an interactive software application, used as a clinicians’ guide in return to work planning for injured dairy and pork workers.
The Return to Work project was designed to develop a computer application that would assist treating physicians in safely returning injured agricultural workers to their place of employment when they are not yet fully recovered but still capable of doing some productive tasks. The project team continues make great strides in the development of this application.
Farm task data collection is continuing through the end of Year 4. We have now visited 32 farms across Wisconsin and Minnesota. We have moved all data from the physical and occupational therapists’ notes to Microsoft word format, then into a RedCap system. This system will house all farm task data that has been collected by therapists. We have loaded approximately 90% of the task data into a structured format, via RedCap. Select pieces of that data, critical to the Return-to-Work algorithm, are currently being loaded into the application database.
Thousands of farm task photos have also been captured over the past grant year. These photos will be loaded into a SharePoint photo library and indexed for optimal search. The photos are also linked to specific tasks. Within the software application, they are used as educational tools to facilitate communication between the clinician and the patient.
Primary application development is still underway. The mobile-friendly, web application is functional and will be undergoing usability testing with clinicians, residents, and other users throughout the first quarter of year 5.
Empowering clinicians to provide injured workers in dairy and pork production with an effective and adaptive return to work program, which takes into account the limitations of the injured worker and the needs of the work place.
Return to Work Project Featured in the Journal of Medical Internet Research
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