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Helping clients rehabilitate and return to work

How advisers and insurers can help clients seeking to re-enter the workforce after a period of disability and significant challenges.

While we might not always agree, research shows that in general, work is good for overall health and wellbeing and absence from work in the long term can cause a negative impact to health. The significance of work to health should therefore not be taken for granted.

Recent research by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians suggests being off work for significant periods of time is actually a great risk to public health.

According to the research, absence from work in the long term results in an increased risk of a range of societal and health issues. Individuals absent from work in the long term are two to three times more likely to have increased risk of poor health and two to three times more likely to suffer from a mental illness.*

The research also recognises that individuals seeking to re-enter the workforce after a period of disability face significant and complex challenges that make it increasingly difficult to return to work over time.

The experience a customer has at claim time can have a significant impact on their return to health, and insurers and advisers have the responsibility and opportunity to provide the best support during these times of need, to set them on the right path to recovery.


Advisers can collaborate with insurers to ensure their customers are receiving enhanced support through health support services. This will not only result in shorter claim durations, it will mean insurers and advisers are doing what they can to fast-track customers on their path to return to wellness.

BT’s rehabilitation and health support program was developed in consultation with clinical psychologists, occupational therapists and health support experts, and is based on research by the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, which released a consensus statement supporting the health benefits of work.

A bio-psychosocial approach to health support has been implemented to improve the total wellbeing of customers. The team recognise health is a holistic term that relates to those complex interconnected system of the biological, psychological and social aspects of someone’s life.

The health support program is comprised of six key deliverables, including:
1. implementing a new Health Outcome Measure
2. adopting an early intervention screening tool
3. capturing comprehensive bio-psychosocial data
4. adopting a health support program for customers
5. enhancing engagement with treating doctors, and
6. carrying out comprehensive, rich conversations with customers.

A key aspect of the program relates to continuing to improve capability, through communication and richness of conversations with customers about factors that may influence outcomes of claims.

The Health Outcome Measure is a support tool contributing to the overall health support program. The measure involves the implementation of scoring systems, administered across a number of domains of health, including: cognition, getting along, self-care, participation, mobility and life activities. To simplify the process as much as possible and avoid asking customers to fill in tedious forms, the Health Outcome Measure scores are obtained via usual vocational rehabilitation dialogue.

Throughout the claim lifespan, the customer’s health score will inevitably fall from their pre-disability condition at the time of claim. BT’s Health Outcome Measure exists to bridge this gap by determining separate scores for pre-disability health, health at the time of claims and when the referral to health support ends.


A/B = 24/31 = 77 per cent.

The data collected from initial customer scores will be used to create health improvement benchmarks for future claims to ensure the most comprehensive approach is being taken to improve customer health outcomes. 

The implementation of health support programs such as this build on the opportunity to work with customers directly to assist with their holistic recovery to return to wellness.

The Health Outcome Measure is aimed at the heart of our customers’ claims to set them on the right path to recovery.


Neil Borthwick is the national technical claims manager of BT Financial Group

This article was written with BT quality specialist, life insurance, Celina Ennis. 


Helping clients rehabilitate and return to work
Neil Borthwick
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