In 2020, telehealth and virtual visits skyrocketed in use across all medical fields. The dynamics that set this in motion were largely a result of the global pandemic. The reality is that telehealth was already a growing service option before this event. Experts are predicting that telehealth and virtual services will continue in popularity and use well after the COVID-19 crisis is over. For occupational medicine, telehealth is one of the changes that necessitate a solid Electronic Health Record option designed for the specialty.
Occupational medicine has evolved over the years. This is due partially to regulatory changes over several decades but it’s also due in part to a changing workforce. With additional demographics in the workforce, there’s a changing expectation of what employees need to maintain safety and wellness. This has led to a massive expansion in the field of occupational medicine.
Major Highlights in Occupational Medicine
Occupational medicine is the larger label that includes prevention, training, and care initiatives for workers. As employment trends change, new needs emerge in the workforce. Technology has added new offerings to help employers, clinicians, and employees maintain better health and wellness.
Many of these trends will continue to increase in popularity:
- Total Health and Wellness. Occupational medicine is not just about treating injuries on the job. It’s also about maintaining health for employees. Many firms have developed programs to help staff live healthier lifestyles. Some of these benefits include gym membership, nutritional help, and stress management considerations. We’re moving to a more proactive model in wellness.
- Changing Safety Concerns in Staffing. Many companies today are using a variety of workers, from contract employees to freelance to temporary. This trend has been increasing over the past several years. Because employees may not be permanent members of the staff, there can be new concerns about training to maintain health and welfare during work hours.
- Virtual Training Options. There is a much greater focus on making sure that staff is well trained to understand hazards and best practices. Many of these learning options can be maintained in a virtual environment which allows for better collection and tracking of information.
- Telehealth and Virtual Visits. We’ve seen a massive increase in the use of telehealth in 2020 and that trend looks like it will continue. Patients can access their preferred physician with greater ease and efficiency.
Occupational Medicine in an EHR
Occupational medicine covers several areas of health and well-being that are pertinent to employers, employees, and healthcare organizations that serve them. A traditional EHR solution isn’t designed specifically for occupational medicine, which can make these out of the box solutions difficult to work with. It’s a multifaceted field that needs to honor strict regulatory compliance, as well as ever-changing services.
An EHR designed to work with occupational medicine provides the best option because it’s intuitive to the clinician and employer needs. The functions are designed with this dynamic in mind, making it simpler for each party to access the information they need and to complete tasks.
Here are a few of the benefits that are included in an EHR solution designed for occupational medicine:
- Tracks Injuries in the Workplace – For employers, features that allow them to track incidents in the workplace make their regulatory and compliance requirements much easier to maintain. It also offers them excellent reporting options so that they can easily see where changes might need to be implemented.
- Manage Training Initiatives and Protocols – The portal allows employers one place to track their initiatives and protocols for better record keeping. They can also access state and federal regulatory information in one location.
- Individual Patient Records – This type of EHR can maintain individual employee records so that the employer can easily see what staff members might need or be missing on an individual level.
- Maintain Ongoing Occupational Medicine Needs – A company might need any number of services that include drug testing, pre-employment screenings, and workman’s compensation injury treatment. A devoted EHR allows all of these aspects of OM to be met and maintained.
Occupational Medicine Trends in 2021
It’s impossible to predict exactly what the next year will bring, but we expect the trends in telehealth to continue to rise. In the occupational medicine field, this will mean that there will be an increase in virtual visits, and many practices will make use of digital options. Concerns from COVID-19 will continue to be an issue for Occupational Medicine in 2021.
In 2021, we’ll see greater adoption of technology to prevent accidents and protect safety in the workplace. Some newer offerings include Smart PPE (which collects biometrics on employees) and an uptick in mobile apps used to prevent and track incidents.
Companies and clinics will continue to expand their offerings to include virtual training and the availability of wellness programs remotely.
Employer Portals are gaining in popularity in 2021. This feature is outstanding because it allows the employer better access to the documentation they need, both regulatory and to develop their employee protocol. Return to Work features, such as those included with PrognoCIS, aid employers in streamlining the process to protect their business and staff health.