Implementing Occupational Medicine
What are the Benefits of Implementing Occupational Medicine into Your Clinic?
Employers today are interested to keep a visible track of their worker’s medical record, especially work-related health problems. One reason for this concern is to reduce the risk of work-related operations on the employee’s health and the other reason is to comply with strict regulatory policies to remain operational in the business. The working environment has undergone an enormous change in the past hundred years. The modern working environments and conditions have given rise to a number of health concerns for the working population. There is an increased demand for corporate industries and businesses to ensure better working standards and protection for their employees. Latest statistics from the website of United States Department of Labor reveal that in the U.S, a total of 5,190 workers died in 2016 from work-related injuries. The fatal injury rate for the same year was 3.6 per 100,000 for full-time equivalent workers. The rate of workplace injuries has greatly increased in the past 10 years, and this reflects the immediate need for all healthcare facilities and clinics to divert their attention towards better understanding and proper implementation of occupational health or occupational medicine.
Understanding Occupational Medicine
Let us first understand what occupational medicine really means. In its broader sense, it is also sometimes referred to as occupational health, in the early 1960s it was also known as industrial medicine. As the name indicates, it refers to the branch of medicine that involves maintaining health and safety of workers and employees, ensuring injuries at workplace are well managed, and is focused on treatment of workers injured at the workplace. The focus of occupational medicine is to ensure that the workers are physically and mentally well at the workplace. The importance of occupational medicine cannot be denied in the modern day healthcare requirements. There are specialist doctors, physicians and nurses dedicated to care for workers and employees injured at the workplace. These specialized healthcare workers receive specialized training and are well-experienced to handle work-related injuries. Occupational Medicine is a broad field incorporating within it a number of disciplines and providing its benefits to a number of industries. For instance, healthcare professionals working within the domain of occupational medicine must remain up-to-date about the federal and state regulations about workplace health and safety such as Department of Transportation (DOT), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) so they can help businesses and corporate organizations in defining health and safety rules for their employees. Having defined the basics of occupational medicine we now consider the value of occupational medicine for clinics and healthcare facilities.
Implementing Occupational Medicine into Your Clinic
Implementing occupational medicine into the clinic can be thought of in two aspects. The first one is establishing a system of occupational medicine for health and benefit of staff and employees of the clinic. The second one is establishing a system of occupational medicine for industries, and corporations associated with various businesses. Healthcare workers are the most important resource of the clinic. They are often required to work in stressful situations, for instance, they may be required to work an extra shift, or may have night duties or may suffer from an emotional situation on part of some patient. In all these scenarios, the clinic is responsible for the health and care of its employees. The clinical management needs to establish a system in which it is aware of the health and safety of its employees, and is also aware of any work-related injury so that it can take prompt action when an illness or injury of a healthcare worker is reported. Incorporation of an occupational medicine system in the clinic for healthcare employees is an efficient solution to all such problems.
There are a number of different software available that can be integrated with the hospital’s management and EHR system and can enable the clinic to provide occupational medicine facilities for its healthcare staff. Some of the wide-ranging benefits of this system including:
- Ensuring health and safety of healthcare workers
- Keeping a track of injuries at the workplace
- Measuring trends in the health and wellbeing of employees
- Improving the productivity of healthcare workers
- Increasing clinical efficiency by improving the productivity of workers
The second aspect of the implementation of occupation medicine into the clinic is an establishment of a system to provide health and care services for work-related injuries to multiples businesses working across various sectors. For this purpose, the clinical management needs to train a separate group of physicians, doctors and nurses who can provide occupational care for work-related injuries. Also, it needs to incorporate a specialized software system for occupational medicine. This side of healthcare services holds a lot of scope of future of healthcare clinics, in both financial as well as social terms. This is because, in the current times, employers need to minimize their expenses while meeting their responsibilities towards their employees. Traditional employee insurance seems costly to many corporations and they are not willing to make a heavy investment in their insurance expenses. In such cases, many businesses move towards acquiring services of medical clinics that provide occupational medicine services. Resource managers and finance managers of many large and small companies prefer to get associated with some sort of occupational medicine services as it costs less in the long run.
Before dwelling into the benefits of occupational medicine for clinics, let’s explore the potential this specialty holds in the current times. The focus of occupational medicine is to fulfill the medical needs of the employers for their personnel, provision of care for work-related injuries as well as preventive services including safety program, drug-free educational sessions, and corporate health services. Due to an increase in work-place related injuries as evident by the latest statistics, and to control these rates, the strict healthcare laws imposed by the regulating bodies, the need for professional occupational health has increased in the recent times. Employers look for specialized, as well as the full package of occupational medicine services for their workforce including exposure evaluations, vaccinations, drug, and alcohol screening educational sessions and specialized healthcare professionals available on call for management of work-related injuries. Occupational medicine is a complex approach to the care and management of patients. Physicians, doctors and nurses associated with this branch of care, not only require medical expertise, but they also require expertise in industrial medicine, industry care protocols as well as specific treatment. Also, they must be aware of specific paperwork for compliance with corporate and government regulations and this gives an edge to occupational medicine experts and clinics providing these services.
Benefits of Incorporating Occupational Medicine into the Clinic
There are wide-ranging benefits of incorporating occupational medicine into the clinic. A few of these include:
- A clinic well versed with occupational medicine system can satisfy the needs of the employer clients through effectively managing their individualized health and care protocols
- The clinic would be able to provide secure access for the employers to view details of their employee’s work status, appointments and health-related issues through an online portal
- There are a number of software systems available that the clinic can utilize in creating and managing an efficient system of occupational medicine. By incorporating the software with the clinic’s EHR and IT system, the clinic can provide the following benefits for its associated clients:
- Capturing health information and managing health records for the entire workforce of different employers (clients)
- Scheduling and managing educational sessions, screening programs and site visits for different employers (clients)
- Understanding the epidemiology and risk factors of chronic conditions impacting the workforce in different industrial sectors. This can help the clinic in the long run as it can get involved in research practice to propose suggestions for the government for control of workplace epidemics
- Creating detailed records and reports for different employers (clients) related to employees health and work-related incidents at the workplace
- The clinic can provide facilities for standardization of employee health management data to its various clients.
- The clinic would be able to gain recognition in the corporate industry. The clinic can mark its corporate presence and ensure high standards of care of its healthcare services. Occupational health professionals are placed at the central position for all health-related activities in the business workplace, corporate sector as well as industrial workplace. Their duties bound them to remain connected to the senior management of the business, human resources, government and regulatory agencies, labor unions etc to understand the healthcare needs and challenges of working individuals.
- Having such healthcare professional workers in the clinic can give an edge to the clinic in terms of both financial and social impact
- Incorporation of occupational medicine provides financial benefits to the clinic
- It also provides social benefits.
Occupational medicine can provide great financial benefits to the clinic. Business, corporate organizations, and industries look for service providers for the health and care of their employees. They are interested to look for healthcare experts who can help them improve employee wellbeing, prevent work-related injuries, detect work-related diseases and propose care measures for their employees. To get services from expert healthcare professionals, corporate businesses are willing to pay an adequate sum of money on an annual basis for employees working within the company. The clinic can set the fee structure as per the structure of the corporate company, number of employees and the services the company wish to take. Agreements with multinational organizations can yield financial profit from the clinic. Some examples of occupational medical services that the clinic can decide to provide for a corporation include:
- Diagnosis and treatment of injury or disease experienced by a worker
- Consultation with workers for work-related conditions
- Dive physicals
- Independent medical examinations
- Impairment ratings
- Respiratory evaluations
- Surveillance testing
- Employer consultation
- Drug and alcohol screening etc
Based upon the services provided and the number of employees, the clinic can decide fee structure for an organization who wishes to take occupational medical services for its employees.
Implementing occupational medicine into the clinic, not only gives financial benefits to the clinic, but it also provides social benefits. By being associated with the health and care of workers, the clinic can contribute towards the sustainable development of the nation. This is because when workers are healthy, they can be productive and raise their families in a healthy manner. They can work in a more productive manner, they can help the organization in achieving its defined objective and they can live a healthy life. A healthy worker will reduce the burden of health care on the nation. Regular screening of workers could be helpful for early diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases. Also, workers would have reduced stress, improved health, improved job satisfaction and improved sense of well-being and this will, in turn, contribute to the development of healthy society. If a clinic implements occupational medicine with these thoughts it mind, it would make its contribution towards the development of a healthy nation.
Implementing Occupational Medicine into Your Clinic is the Need of Current Time
A medical specialty that is greatly in demand today is the field of occupational medicine or occupational health. This branch of medicine is focused on providing care and treatment of work-related injuries. In the current times, it is gaining immense popularity and it is high in demand because many corporate business, industries and small and large organizations look for outsourcing their occupational health and safety responsibility as it seems a fair and economical solution for managing occupational injuries. Occupational health experts are professionals trained to work in different healthcare settings, and these professionals are highly in demand today. Considering this high market demand, if a clinic providing regular care services, implements occupational medicine, it can gain several advantages and make its marked presence in various working domain. Implementing occupational medicine not only provides financial benefits to the clinic but also social benefits. Businesses both corporate sector and industrial sector, whether on large scale or small scale look for reliable solutions for the health and safety of their workers and by providing dedicated occupational medicine services to employers, a healthcare clinic can gain great financial benefits, establish associations with varied number of fields and can work towards sustainable development of the nation.