As the page turns and we put 2021 in the rear-view, a lot of people are asking what 2022 may hold for the occupational medicine (OccMed) industry. In this article, we’re going to look at three expected trends for OccMed that we plan to see in 2022. Additionally, we’ll share some actionable steps that organizations can take to get ahead of the curve and position themselves for success in the new year.
1. A Shift from Reactivity to Proactivity
In the last two years, the industry has been plagued with unexpected twists and turns as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). And while every year in healthcare brings some sort of new and unique changes, this is the understatement of the century when applied to the past two years. Unfortunately, as we move into 2022, COVID-19 and its variants show no signs of going anywhere.
While the presence of COVID-19 looks to remain a constant trend, the way in which OccMed teams react will (and should) be changing in 2022. Instead of being as reactionary as we’ve been forced to be over the past two years, we can now shift our approach to a proactive response. Yes, there are still unknowns, but we have so much more information now that we didn’t have years ago. The availability of these resources should empower teams and organizations to approach PHE planning proactively.
Actionable Step: Put in processes to stay on top of any changes to vaccine mandates and utilize technology to better track compliance. For OccMed providers, this is a unique way to build competitive advantages.
2. A New Host of Injuries and Conditions
For OccMed providers, keeping the workforce happy, healthy, and productive is a key component of success. Often, this requires OccMed to analyze the working conditions of their clients and offer proactive solutions to identify and mitigate potential health risks. For many workers, though, those work conditions have changed dramatically over the past two years. As a result of the PHE, many workers now work from home or are required to alter the way in which they work to meet new health-related rules and regulations.
Anytime we drastically change working conditions, we also alter risk factors. For example, working from home can mean uncomfortable workspaces that cause injury, changes in stress levels and emotional health, and even increases in unhealthy eating.
Actionable Step: Make sure you’re planning to prevent as many of these new risk factors as possible to save money on future injuries. Additionally, ensure you’re not still allocating resources to risk factors that are no longer an issue due to changes in work habits or environment.
3. The Normalcy of New Technology
Throughout the PHE, we saw a big rise in the use of telehealth. As of mid-2021, over 76% of U.S. hospitals were connecting with patients and consulting practitioners at a distance through the use of mobile apps, video, and other technology.1 Prior to the PHE, there was a major barrier to acceptance between patients and providers who struggled to see the efficacy of this treatment method. As COVID-19 made telehealth necessary, many patients (and providers) quickly saw how effective and convenient leveraging this technology really was, regardless of the pandemic.
What this means for OccMed and healthcare as a whole is that we shouldn’t expect patients to want to abandon this convenience even if and when COVID-19 makes its way to the rear-view.
Actionable Step: If you haven’t already, start making plans to explore implementing some form of telehealth into your offerings to employers. Additionally, start exploring other potential new technologies like predictive analytics or tech-forward EHR solutions that can help you separate yourself from the pack in what will certainly be a more competitive industry.
The Final Word and a Bonus 2022 OccMed Trend
What we just alluded to is something that all OccMed practices need to be aware of — the industry will continue to become more and more competitive in 2022. What this means is that it’s critical OccMed providers that want to survive and thrive need to be on the cutting edge of the industry as much as possible.
If you’d like to learn more about how you and your team can do just that, we’d invite you to read our free e-book titled—6 Tactics to Grow and Expand Your OccMed Business. Including insights from Gene Howell, CEO of Reliant Urgent Care, which serves hundreds of patients a day at Los Angeles International Airport, the ebook provides real-world actionable steps you can take today to best position your organization for 2022 in response to these trends.
6 Tactics to Grow and Expand Your OccMed Business
Scale up quickly to guide employers in improving worker health
1. American Hospital Association, “Fact Sheet: Telehealth,” accessed August 2, 2021