Increased work capacity through rehabilitation support for patients and caregivers

Experience from Scandinavian return-to-work coaching


Long-term illness is one of society’s priority challenges and the number of people on long term sick leave is increasing steadily. The role and responsibility of health care in improved work capacity has also been highlighted in recent years.

In response to this, Health Navigator has developed and evaluated a rehabilitation programme which is based on intensive short-term coaching for patients with diverse and often complex health needs engaging in or returning to work. For patients for whom returning to work is expected to take a long time, a rehabilitation coordinator acts in an advocacy role between multiple actors including health care professionals, employers and social insurance.


Current status and outcome


Patients have had a work rehabilitation coach to date


Percent decrease in sick leave on average, compared to control group

The service is non-medical in nature and focuses on motivating the patient to take greater control of their own health, seek appropriate care and helps the patient to navigate an often complex health and social care landscape. The Rehabilitation Coordinator complements regular care with efforts focused on promoting ability and works together with the patient to enable sustainable and long-term return to work.

The service is delivered by trained health care professionals who understand the challenges faced by people unable to work due to their health. Health Navigator’s model is suitable for both short-term and long-term health issues including support for people with work injuries, disabilities, and long-term health conditions.


International experience underpins individual-focused support

Both Swedish and international experience suggests that the support of a coordinator is a promising model. The coordinator facilitates a link between the individual and often several actors within the health and work spheres who need to be involved for a successful return to work.

Many attempts have been made with similar models, but there is often no evidence for effect. The support needs to be provided to the right patients, tailored to their needs and involve mobilising all elements and relevant actors for sustainable results.

Our current work shows a measurable effect on return to work and quality of life

In cooperation with our public sector clients, Health Navigator has developed and evaluated an evidence-based rehabilitation coordinator model. The results show that patients with a rehabilitation coordinator return to work faster, stay in work longer and improve their quality of life, compared with patients who did not receive support.

The results have been presented at conferences such as EUMASS, SHEA and EULAR and also attracted attention nationally and by the media.

The rehabilitation coordinator model is delivered in three phases

Healthcare support through automated identification of individuals with preventable risk factors for long-term sick leave

Structured personalised coordination and coaching with a focus on sustainable return to work

Follow-up, adjustment and improvement in collaboration with stakeholders in the rehabilitation chain