Employers today are interested to keep a visible track of their worker’s medical record, especially work-related health problems. One of the reasons for this concern is to reduce the risk of work-related injuries and the other is to comply with strict regulatory policies to remain operational in the business. The working environment has undergone an enormous change over 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-related injuries has greatly increased in the past 10 years, and this reflects the immediate need for employers as well as 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 sometimes referred to as occupational health, and 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 the workplace are minimalized and, the workers demonstrate sound physical and mental health while at work. The importance of occupational medicine cannot be denied in the modern day healthcare requirements. There are specialists, physicians and nurses dedicated to caring 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
Occupational medicine can be implemented in the clinic for two reasons. The first one is to establish a system of occupational medicine for health and benefit of staff and employees of the clinic. The second one is to establish a system of occupational medicine for businesses and corporations. Healthcare specialists and workers are the most important resource of an occupational medicine 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 own employees, and is also aware of the health of its client’s employees in relation to 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 thereby improving the productivity of the clinic staff.
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. It also needs to incorporate a specialized software system for occupational medicine. This service holds a lot of scope for the 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, create a provision of care for work-related injuries as well conduct preventive services including safety programs, drug-free educational sessions, and corporate health services. Due to an increase in work-place related injuries as evident by the latest statistics, and strict healthcare laws imposed by the regulating bodies, the need for professional occupational health services has increased in the recent times. Employers look for specialized, as well a complete 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. They must also be aware of specific paperwork for compliance with corporate and government regulations.
Benefits of Incorporating Occupational Medicine into the Clinic
There are wide-ranging benefits of incorporating occupational medicine in your clinic. A few of these include:
- The clinic would be able to provide secure access to the employers (through employer portal) to view details of their employee’s work status, appointments, and health-related issues.
- A clinic well versed in occupational medicine can satisfy the individualized needs of the employees by effectively managing their health and care protocols.
- 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 for employers.
- Scheduling and managing educational sessions, screening programs and site visits for employers and employees.
- Understanding the epidemiology and risk factors for chronic conditions impacting the workforce in different industrial sectors.
- Creating detailed records and reports for different employees 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. They 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.
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 undertake. 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
- Conduct pre-employment physicals
- Independent medical examinations
- State-specific DFR’s, PR2’s
- Urgent care procedures and visit related care
- Respiratory evaluations
- Random Drug and alcohol screening
- Employer consultation
- Worker’s compensation reports
- Pre and post-surgery evaluation
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 wellness 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 a 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
Occupational medicine or occupational health is one of the medical specialty that is greatly in demand today. This branch of medicine is focused on providing care and treatment of work-related injuries. In the current times, it is gaining importance and is high in demand because many corporate businesses, industries and small and large organizations look for outsourcing their occupational health and safety responsibility. It seems a fair and economical solution for them to involve the services of a clinic to manage occupational health-related issues for them. Occupational health experts are professionals trained to work in different healthcare settings, and these professionals are highly in demand today. Considering the continuous demand in this field, if a clinic implements and provides regular occupational medicine services, it can gain several advantages and make its presence marked in the corporate and industrial sector. Implementing occupational medicine not only provides financial benefits to the clinic but also social benefits. Businesses both in the corporate and industrial sector, whether large or small scale, look for reliable solutions for the health and safety of their workers. By providing dedicated occupational medicine services to employers, a healthcare clinic can gain great financial benefits, establish a reputed presence and can work towards the sustainable development of the nation.