The rationale for an employer to use the services of an external healthcare organization is compelling: Few employers have their in-house health and safety functions totally in order. They are spending money they do not need to spend – a potentially fatal problem.
That is where occupational health, wellness programs, and other services for employers become relevant. The best way to thwart unnecessary expenses is to work with an external occupational health provider capable of making a difference.
When selecting an external occupational health program, I advise employers to look for these signs:
- Clinical expertise and effective management of medical conditions;
- An emphasis on early and safe return to work;
- An understanding of underlying causes of injury (physical and environmental);
- State-of-the-art communication and information management capabilities;
- Deep regulatory knowledge; and
- Easy access to a range of coordinated services of value to the company.
Employer-directed healthcare services are considerably more than a set of product lines or another clinic. Rather, a health system should view the employer portal as a broad platform to pull together and market multiple services to employers and their employees. A coordinated employer portal fulfills a critical function: to serve as a catalyst to bring such services (and others surely to emerge) into a relatively seamless system with the intent of serving the needs of the community at large.
Occupational medicine, rehabilitation, wellness and health promotion, travel medicine, women’s health, behavioral health, disease management and executive exams are examples of service lines that can and should be folded together under a single sales and marketing initiative. Healthcare systems should see these integrated services as a business opportunity to vertically expand service relationships with employers, attain greater community visibility and generate new ancillary services and referrals.
This is a public health model. Occupational health inherently addresses the full patient care continuum, from prevention to acute care to rehabilitation. The astute organization leverages the continuum to tie institutional priorities together.