University of Michigan Work Connections Illness and Injury Assistance

Frequently asked questions for physicians

What is Work Connections?

Work Connections is an integrated disability management program developed by the University of Michigan to provide assistance when an employee experiences an illness or injury that prevents him/her from working. The program will provide assistance through the employee’s recovery and help facilitate a safe return to work.

How does Work Connections work?

Work Connections acts as a liaison with other programs and services at the University to ensure that you, your patient, and the supervisor have convenient and centralized access to a wide variety of resources. These resources include everything from coordinating the services of nurses, vocational rehabilitation counselors, therapists, and other professionals interested in your patient’s recovery to providing return-to-work support such as job analysis and ergonomic consultations.

Is there a cost to use Work Connections?

There is no cost to the employee or his or her department to use the services offered by Work Connections.

What happens during the employee’s time off for recovery?

Work Connections staff will assist and provide support in the following ways during the recovery period:

Why does Work Connections request a Health Care Provider Report or medical records?

What about confidentiality of health information? Could Work Connections ever share medical information against the employee’s wishes?

Health information belongs to your patient and Work Connections guards it appropriately. This means that medical information is kept secure, private, and out of public view. Medical information cannot be sent to the home department, but updates regarding the employee’s status, projected duration of absence, and medical restrictions are provided regularly. Maintaining appropriate confidentiality is a fundamental principle of the program. Health information will be released only in the following circumstances:

Who is responsible for providing necessary medical documentation to justify an employee’s absence?

The employee is responsible for providing sufficient medical documentation to justify an absence. Work Connections provides assistance by identifying what medical documentation is needed and, with authorization from the employee, will request it on your patient’s behalf. 

Failure to obtain the necessary medical documentation to justify an absence could have a negative impact on the patient’s ability to obtain benefits.

Under HIPAA regulations, can a doctor or treating facility send medical documentation without written authorization?

Can the Authorization to Release Medical Information be revoked?

Yes. Authorization may be revoked in writing at any time.

Will medical information be shared with the employee’s supervisor or other departments?

Supervisors who understand an employee's medical issues are often able to provide more support and assistance in identifying return to work options. For this reason, Work Connections encourages employees to disclose information about their medical condition to their supervisor.

What if I do not agree with the plan or actions of Work Connections?

Our primary objective is to provide assistance and support to facilitate a safe return to work. If there is a disagreement, discuss your concerns with your patient, his or her claims representative, or the Work Connections supervisor. We will work with you to understand your concerns and find a solution.

What happens when my patient is ready to return to work?

Work Connections' objective is to facilitate a safe and lasting return to work. Our staff will work with you, your patient, and his or her supervisor to:

What is a return-to-work plan?

A return-to-work plan is developed—with assistance from Work Connections—by you, and other members of the treatment team, the employee, and his or her supervisor. Among other things, it includes information about any physical restrictions such as lifting or sitting for protracted periods of time, along with the target date on which the employee will be fully recovered and able to assume his or her regular duties.