About our Program

The Surgical Quality Care Program (SQC Program) is a quality improvement initiative. It rewards participating musculoskeletal surgeons for consistently implementing our occupational health best practices. These best practices are designed to improve the outcomes of workers injured on the job.

What this means to the patient

Surgeon(s) that are engaged in administrative best practices address:

  • Utilization of the department’s Medical Treatment Guidelines and Opioid Prescribing Guidelines
  • Remove obstacles that inhibit the workers’ release to work
  • Utilization of their Surgical Health Services Coordinator (SHSC) as a resource to answer questions and help navigate the workers’ care

What this means to the surgeon and their clinic

The SQC Program offers surgeons and their clinics both financial and non-financial rewards.

Financial rewards

  • Monetary incentives proportional to best practice adoption (See the Provider Incentives tab to learn more).

Non-financial rewards

Participation in the SQC Program offers tools and resources that are not readily available. These may include:

  • Performance reports to identify trends
  • Access to an SHSC
Best Practices

Benefits tied to the occupational health best practices

How the SQC Program’s six occupational health best practices (BPs) are meaningful to the patient.  

Best Practice (BP) Significance Expectation Performance Threshold
Best Practice 1: Appropriate Opioid Prescribing (mandatory for any incentive)​
  • Improve the care of patients and help save lives by using best practices.
  • Monitor patients on acute, sub-acute, and chronic opioid therapy.
  • Aligns with state-wide best practices from the Bree Collaborative.
  • Monitor for aberrant behavior, lost prescriptions, multiple requests for early refills, opioids from multiple providers, unauthorized dosage escalation, apparent intoxication, etc.
  • Meet opioid measures 1, 2, and 3 when at all possible.
  • Opioid Measure 1: ≥ 90% of all patients with an initial opioid prescription have ≤ 7 days.
  • Opioid Measure 2:  <5% of patients  taking opioids are transitioned to chronic opioid therapy.
  • Opioid Measure 3: ≥90% of patients on chronic opioid therapy (COT) are dosed at 50mg/day MED.
Best Practice 2: Utilization Review (mandatory for medium adoption level incentive and above).​
  • The utilization review process compares requests for medical services to appropriate treatment guidelines and makes a recommendation based on that comparison.
  • Utilization review supports our mission to provide only proper and necessary care for patients.
  • Ensures that all  surgical requests meet the department's Medical Treatment Guidelines.
  • This is a measure of initial UR approval;  the L&I claim manager will issue final determination and inform the requesting provider.
  • Low and medium incentive adoption levels: a surgeon must have 80% of utilization review requests approved.
  • High and sustaining incentive adoption levels: a surgeon must have 100% of utilization review requests approved.
Best Practice 3: Complete and submit an Activity Prescription Form (APF) before and after surgery.​
  • Outlines the treatment plan along with recovery expectations when there is a change in patient restrictions.
  • Helpful to many parties tied to the claim (ex: patient, employer, surgical health services coordinator.
  • Surgeon meets with patient in the 90 days prior to the non-emergent * surgery and submits an APF.
  • Surgeon (or their PA) meets with the patient in the 90 days following surgery and submits an APF.
  • At least 85% of surgical claims will have a pre and post surgical APF submitted by the appropriate provider.
Best Practice 4: Perform surgeries within 21 days of authorization.
  • Taken from a "whole patient" perspective, a timely surgery may help to eliminate some preventable permanent conditions, thus improving  recovery.
  • Schedule authorized surgeries promptly.
  • Procedures preformed outside of the 21 days aren't considered timely for this quality indicator's performance threshold.
  • At least 80% of claim manager authorized surgeries occur within 21 calendar days of the claim managers' notice of authorization.
Best Practice 5: Before surgery, establish release-to-work plans and goals with the patient.
  • Sets a return to work expectation with the patient and a goal for them to work towards.
  • Prevents the patient from actualizing a prolonged post-op disability condition.
  • Encourages patient to start a conversation with their employer about opportunities for light duty work or reduced hours.
  • A successful outcome involves more than pathophysiology.  
  • Returning to work is  part of achieving maximal physical recovery.
  • Prolonged disability affects a patient's career, their economic well being, and their life.
  • Key messages for the released-to-work discussion
  • For at least 85% of non-emergent* surgical claims, the surgeon will have met with the patient and jointly established some release to work plans and goals prior to surgery (not on the day of surgery).
Best Practice 6: Review and integrate communications from ancillary providers into the rehab plan.
  • L&I has made it easier for surgeons to be informed about the patient's rehabilitative process with the Physical Medicine Progress Report (PMPR).
  • Offers an ability to correct/modify recovery plan without an office visit.
  • The surgeon (or their PA) should review and sign the PMPR.
  • Return the signed PMPR to the ancillary provider AND to L&I.
  • These PMPRs can be a resource in building/maintaining the patient's care plans, filling out more accurate APFs and/or job analyses.
  • A surgeon or PA will have reviewed and signed off on 90% of the PMPRs they've received within 14 calendar days of the date they were received.
Important things to know:
  • Best Practice 3 (pre-surgery APF) and Best Practice 5 (released-to-work discussion) must  be completed by the surgeon.
  • Best Practice 3 (post-surgery APF) and Best Practice 6 (PMPR) may be completed by the surgeon or their PA.
  • Best Practice 5 (released-to-work discussions) and Best Practice 6 (PMPR) are measured through the surgical health services coordinators' review of the provider's chart note and not the APF.  (Refer to Key Messages for more information).

* Emergent surgery is defined as injury date followed by surgery within 11 calendar days.

    Provider Incentives

    SQCP participating surgeons should use the following codes once the informational reporting is complete and their updated adoption levels are determined:

    Billing Code: 1086M

    Service: Best Practice Incentive - Surgical

    Description: Billed and payable at initial visit/consultation with worker.

    Maximum Fee: Payable once in the life of the claim per surgeon for the first two surgeons.  Payment level based on assigned adoption level for each individual surgeon.  Fees effective August 1, 2023.  The first two providers will be assessed through dates of service on billing, so the first bills to be received will be those which are included in this calculation.  Refer to MARFS (August 2023 update) for more information.

    • Sustaining Adopter: $525
    • High Adopter: $305
    • Medium Adopter: $230
    • Low Adopter: $155
    • No Adoption: $0


    • Not payable to ARNPs or PA-Cs.
    • Still payable during the Global Surgical Period.
    • Not tied to the Activity Prescription Form (APF).
    • Payment based on adoption level from the last scheduled reporting.

    Adoption levels

    An adoption level will be assigned to each SQC Program participant as determined by how thoroughly the surgeon has implemented the occupational health best practices over the six-month review period.

    • No Adoption:
      • Fails to meet best practice 1 (appropriate opioid prescribing), AND
      • Does not meet Low Adopter requirements.
    • Low Adopter:
      • Must meet best practice 1 (appropriate opioid prescribing), AND
      • One other best practice (best practice 2 - 6). 
    • Medium Adopter:
      • Must meet best practice 1 (appropriate opioid prescribing) and best practice 2 (80% utilization review), AND
      • Two other best practices (best practice 3 -6).
    • High Adopter:
      • Awarded exclusively to surgeons that achieve a Utilization Review of 100%, AND
      • Meet or exceed the threshold for all the remaining best practices (best practice 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6).
      • Cannot be achieved without the services of a Surgical Health Services Coordinator (SHSC).
    • Sustaining Adopter:
      • Meets High Adopter requirements for three consecutive reporting periods (18 months).

    Adoption Levels

      Requirements and Eligibility
      The SQC Program is restricted to musculoskeletal surgeons who:
      • Regularly perform surgeries as Hand, Orthopedic, or Neuro surgeons*.
      • Are credentialed within the L&I MPN with an active L&I provider ID.
      • Provide treatment for state-fund or self-insured workers.
      • Have a completed, signed, and accepted SQC Program Supplemental Application.

      * Podiatrists within a surgical clinic are also eligible to participate.

      Providing Timely Reporting:

      The department would like to provide timely and actionable provider reporting.  For this to occur, SQC Program requests that all Activity Prescription Forms (APFs) be submitted electronically (through either Health Information Exchange or through direct entry on My L&I).  

      SHSC Coordination

      The Surgical Health Services Coordinators (SHSCs) help providers, workers, and employers in many ways.  

      Learn more about Health Services Coordination, qualifications, and standard work that is performed.

      Benefits of having an SHSC

      • Reduce transition times to and from surgical care.
      • Assist workers, employers and health care providers navigate L&I processes.
      • Identify and mitigate barriers to treatment, recovery and return to work.
      • Improve release/return-to-work planning.
      • Removes some of your administrative burden by responding to requests from claim managers, vocational counselors and employers.

      SHSC options

      A clinic may either be the SHSC's employer or the SHSC’s client through a contract agreement.

      While SHSCs are not L&I employees, some community health care partners offer SHSCs.  Reach out to us for more information.

      SHSC billable services

      SHSCs must first get an L&I Provider ID in order to bill services to state-fund claims.

      Service Description Code Details Rate
      Surgical Coordination Intake (SCI)​ 1083M​ Payable once in the life of the claim $157.28​
      Surgical Health Services Coordinators’ Standard Services​ 1088M​ Billable in six-minute increments for activities that remove claim/treatment barriers or positively influence the recovery and/or release to work.​ $9.68

      Frequently Asked Questions

        What adoption level will I start out at if I was participating in Ortho-Neuro or the Surgical Best Practice Pilot?

        You will receive three informational reports based on your individual adoption of SQC Program best practices:

        • January - June 2022
        • July - December 2022
        • January - June 2023

        You will then receive another report that will determine your updated adoption level:

        • July - December 2023
        What adoption level will I start out at if I did not participate in Ortho-Neuro or the Surgical Best Practice Pilot?

        As a new provider, you will start out as a Low Adopter.  After your first full reporting period, your adoption level will be based on your individual adoption of SQC Program best practices.