For decades, payers, employers, state governments, and health care providers have pursued the elusive goal of controlling spiraling medical costs in workers' compensation, trying numerous solutions to lower costs, eliminate the fragmentation that fosters inefficiency, and achieve faster return to work. Now, there is a growing belief that the focus on "cost containment" isn't enough.

The real goal should be better outcomes—and when these better medical outcomes are achieved, the money spent on these cases will achieve a superior return on investment. Rather than a focus on lower unit costs for services, the emphasis should be on achieving less time away from work, while lowering administrative and indemnity costs, which lowers overall claim costs.

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