Top 10 Things to Look for in an Occupational Health Provider

Top 10 Things to Look for in an Occupational Health Provider

By Mark Savage, Director of Occupational Health, Community Healthcare System.

Finding the right occupational health partner to coordinate your employee health needs can be a challenge for employers as they begin their search. In addition to quality levels of care, it’s essential to have high-quality interactions on the administrative side of your relationship.

There are several important attributes to look for that will help ensure your occupational health partner delivers the maximum benefit for both your company and your employees:

 

  1. Communication: Employers rely on their provider to communicate in a clear, concise, and timely manner. Work status summaries following injury care, drug test results and status determinations following physicals after a job offer should be provided the same or next day. Employers should have a direct line of communication to the medical provider to discuss the history behind the injury and the status of any work restrictions for the employee following the visit.
  2. Prompt scheduling and wait times: Employers rely on their occupational health provider to ensure applicants and employees are working as soon as possible. Injuries should be prioritized, so care is provided, and work status determined as soon as possible. Often, employees are on the clock when they visit occupational health. Having a provider who meets with them in a timely manner saves the client money and enhances patient satisfaction.
  3. Occupational medicine is their specialty: The ideal occupational health provider offers only occupational medicine. Employers need providers who understand Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) regulations, Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, worker’s compensation laws, etc. They also want a provider who understands their workplace and the impact their medical decisions have on the operation of the company as well as any financial implications.
  4. Staff certification: Clinic staff and medical providers should have the proper occupational health credentials. Ideally, the medical director should be board certified in occupational and environmental medicine, and physicians should be federally certified medical review officers for adjudication of drug test results. Physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants should be certified by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to conduct DOT physicals. The clinic staff should be certified by the DOT as drug and alcohol collectors, and preferably, certified by the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation to perform audiograms and certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to conduct pulmonary function testing.
  5. Full menu of services: The occupational health provider should offer a range of services to meet needs across industries. Along with offering injury care, post-offer physicals and OSHA-related screenings, the provider should be able to assist with worksite ergonomic programs, injury prevention, physical therapy, and employee wellness services.
  6. Case management: Although it is not common, an occupational health program should provide a nurse case manager to oversee the referral process and make certain cases do not fall through the cracks. A case manager works with all involved parties to ensure that the care is of high quality and designed to return the worker to work as quickly and safely as possible.
  7. Timely, accurate billing: The occupational health provider should be able to provide customized billing and provide them at intervals ideal for the client. For example, bills relating to physicals might be set up to go to one department and bills for drug screens directed to another department or a third-party administrator.
  8. Services at the workplace: Providers should have flexibility to offer some services on site. While this may not work for all services, on-site services could include vaccinations, TB tests, audiograms, respirator fit testing, wellness services and ergonomic assessments. They may include an on-site nurse or a full-service occupational health clinic.
  9. It is all about the relationship: Occupational health programs should be a partnership between the provider and the employer. A full-service occupational health program will also have one or more account executives to serve as liaisons between the client and the clinic. Program management plays a key role in this relationship, and employers should feel comfortable reaching out to the program director or manager, or even the medical director.
  10. Location, location, location: Occupational health clinics are often located close to the industrial centers of a community and near pockets of retail. It may be wise to look for a provider offering a network of clinics within a region. Not only do you want the clinic to be close to the workplace, it is also important to have clinics that are convenient to the applicant’s residence so they can easily report for a post-offer physical or drug screen.

 

When all of these qualities are in place, the results for your business will simply be tremendous. A healthier workforce will certainly produce stronger performance results no matter what industry you’re in or customers you serve. Plus, the right partner will also save your company time and money in terms of employee health management. These are powerful things for business success and will all be made possible with the right attributes.