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Calculating the costs and benefits for a MSD case management service

HSE's Research Report 493, The costs and benefits of active case management and rehabilitation for musculoskeletal disorders provides good evidence that investing in the management of workers with MSDs is cost effective. However, you will probably need to develop a cost benefit analysis for a case management service for MSD using real information from your organisation in order to secure your organisation's commitment and investment.

HSE's Research Report 493 presents a number of detailed cost benefit analyses (see table 2a, pages 80 – 87). The spreadsheet [18KB] is reproduced here to enable you to apply a similar approach as part of presenting a case to your organisation's decision makers.

Typically, the costs of a case management service are easier to quantify than the benefits. There are a range of interventions that could be funded ranging from the purchase of sessions of a physiotherapist's time to more extensive interventions such as functional restoration programmes for those with chronic problems. These costs need to be ascertained from potential providers (see for example the ACPOHE website for lists of qualified physiotherapists interested in occupational health). Health care interventions unless addressing work-related ill health are subject to income tax and national insurance (see the Tax rules and the purchase of occupational health support leaflet for more information).

Your sickness absence recording system will be a very helpful source of information providing an estimate of the numbers of sufferers of MSDs who are off-work sick per year and the total days lost. In the first instance, it will be necessary to estimate how much absence might be saved by the interventions. HSE's SWI survey 2004/05 estimated that on average people suffering from a work-related MSD took an estimated 20.5 days off work because of their complaint. It would therefore be reasonable to estimate up to a 30% reduction in working days-off sick might be achieved. Once your interventions are running it will be possible to estimate this with greater certainty based on analysis of your organisation's sickness absence records.

Updated 2011-09-08