Washington to Expand COHE Program

At least six Centers of Occupational Health and Education sponsors will be chosen, two more than currently operate in the program.They provide education and financial incentives to more than 2,000 health care providers to encourage use of best practices in occupational health.

The Washington state Department of Labor & Industries is seeking proposals from health care organizations interested in sponsoring Centers of Occupational Health and Education (COHEs). These work with medical providers, employers, and injured workers to improve health care for work-related injuries and illnesses.

There are four COHEs in Washington. The state's 2011 workers' compensation reform law included an expansion of the program. Based in clinics and hospitals, they provide education and financial incentives to more than 2,000 health care providers to encourage use of best practices in occupational health. Funding from L&I supports health services coordinators who help with case management and getting appropriate services early in an injury claim. A December 2011 study found that treatment by COHE providers reduced lost work days by nearly 20 percent and claim costs by $500 per claim.

L&I's notice said the agency expects to select at least six COHE sponsors. Current sponsors must reapply, and responses are due March 18. Successful bidders will be chosen by April 19.

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