Occupational safety and health is now a priority for organizations. The CDC offers a host of guidelines, training resources and research initiatives under their National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) initiative to help companies reduce the risk of accident or injury in the work place.1
Urgent care and occupational medicine (OccMed) providers exist at the crossroads of this care framework: OccMeds are often tapped by businesses to conduct pre-employment testing and provide ongoing treatment of workplace-related injuries, while urgent care facilities play a critical role in immediately handling incidents that occur on the job.
Individually, these healthcare solutions offer opportunities to improve workplace health and safety. But by working together, it’s possible for this care combination to deliver more than the sum of its parts. Here are three ways OccMeds can capitalize on urgent care connections.
1. Extended Hours of Service
Urgent care providers exist as a more accessible alternative to hospital emergency rooms, providing a way for patients to seek treatment with significantly reduced wait times at smaller, local facilities. As a result, urgent care companies see most of their business in the morning and evening during the week — before and after typical workdays.
OccMed operations, meanwhile, are generally by-appointment providers that assist employers and employees during work hours by providing physical evaluations, drug tests and even on-the-job incident training.
These equal but opposite schedules provide the opportunity for extended hours of service to meet a broader range of operational needs. For example, combined OccMed/Urgent Care facilities could allow staff to book occupational appointments or evaluations outside normal business hours to better suit their schedules, while simultaneously providing immediate treatment for on-the-job injuries that might require hours of workday waiting in the ER but could be addressed almost immediately in urgent care settings.
2. Reduced Wait Times
As noted by the Harvard Business Review, in 2019 the average patient in an American emergency department waited more than an hour and half for treatment and spent at least two hours and fifteen minutes in the ER before being discharged.2 According to the CDC, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly shortened these wait times but for the wrong reasons and notes that patients delaying emergency care “might result in serious complications or death.”3
Both of these scenarios present opportunities for combined care efforts. As noted by recent data from the Urgent Care Association (UCA), “almost 97 percent of urgent care patient encounters lasted one hour or less,” in part because urgent care providers are deploying new technologies such as telecare along with services such as occupational medicine.4 By leveraging these fast turnaround times and pairing them with CDC-informed NIOSH safety guidelines, it’s possible for OccMed/Urgent Care providers to increase patient confidence and improve attendance rates while still keeping wait times low.
3. Combined Treatment Plans
It’s also possible for paired efforts to provide end-to-end treatment plans that outpace offerings available at OccMed or urgent care facilities alone. Consider an employee who suffers a minor injury at work. When the incident occurs, they can seek out immediate treatment at their nearest urgent care facility. Shared OccMed providers can then assess the long-term impact of this injury, recommend ongoing treatments and schedule regular appointments to reduce patient complexity and limit overall employer costs. Best bet? Streamline these treatment efforts with a specialized EHR solution to help simplify claims submission, reduce denials and manage multi-payer billing.
Combined OccMed/Urgent Care options offer key advantages over individual offerings by empowering service hour extensions, wait time reductions and end-to-end treatment plan provisions. Learn more about how Net Health for Occupational Medicine (Agility®) can help your OccMed practice capitalize on urgent care connections.
The Practical Guide to a Successful OccMed Practice
Insights to help you grow your occupational medicine business.
1) Sage Journals Public Health Reports, “The Value of Worker Well-Being,” October 19, 2019.
1) CDC, “The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)”, May 25, 2018.
2) Harvard Business Review, “To Reduce Emergency Room Wait Times, Tie Them to Payments”, February 6, 2019.
4) Urgent Care Association, “Urgent Care Industry Grows to More than 9,000 Centers Nationwide”, February 24, 2020.