You don’t have to look far outside your doors to realize that the occupational medicine industry is getting more and more competitive. And while from a customer standpoint, competition is always welcomed, it generally means more headaches for providers in a fight to stay relevant. For many, the initial response is, “We need to spend more money on marketing immediately.” Yes, this can help, but there is actually a more sustainable and potentially more effective way to compete that can actually strengthen your overall bottom line.
We’re talking about innovation. In this article, we’d like to explore a particular way that OccMed providers can innovate and differentiate themselves by offering new programs to customers.
What Employers Really Want
Employers are always looking for better ways to manage the health of their employee population. This not only helps to cut down on healthcare costs, but it produces happier employees, better company culture, and a more productive workforce. One of the best ways to accomplish these goals is through preventative medicine. If we can find unique ways to limit injuries and ailments before they happen, that’s an instantly attractive proposition to any employer looking for an OccMed provider.
A Primer in Ergonomics
If you’ve shopped for any office equipment before, you’ve certainly heard the word ‘ergonomic’. While ergonomics has many definitions, in this context it refers to the study of how humans interact with manmade objects. More specifically, it refers to how things are built or how tasks are performed to make things more comfortable for the user.
But ergonomics actually goes much deeper than just a marketing term for a new chair or a desk. In fact, ergonomic risk factors contribute to a whole slew of ergonomic injuries, including things like repetitive stress injuries (RSIs), musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), repetitive motion injuries (RMIs), and more. You may be more keen to the real-world examples of these that include things like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), lower back injuries, and tendinitis.
According to a 2018 study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics1, 30% of injury cases causing days away from work (DAFW) were caused by ergonomic injuries. While this is already a significant issue, it’s possible that we see a rise in these types of injuries as more people are working from home in new work environments as a result of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. An employer’s office may have offered carefully selected comforts, but that might not be the case for the employee now working from a bar stool at the kitchen counter.
The Opportunity – Ergonomic Programs
What this means for OccMed providers is opportunity. By devising programs and solutions that can support employers with their ergonomic challenges, OccMed providers can stand out from the crowd with a more complete solution. Bear in mind that educating potential customers on the importance of these programs is a big step. They may not be aware of how impactful ergonomic injuries already are or may grow to be as a result of the changes in the way many employees are working.
The Keys to Success of Ergonomic Programs
According to the University of California’s Ergonomics Program2, the two keys to the success of any ergonomics initiative are management commitment and employee involvement. What this means is that OccMed providers need to be prepared to support these two pillars of the programs so their customers (the employers) see the real benefit. Here are a few suggestions of how to do that:
- Provide resources to your customers to help them earn the necessary buy-in from management. When employers explain the benefits of the programs to their key leaders, they have a much stronger opportunity to see successes.
- Provide resources to continue that buy-in down to the employee level. Employees may not be aware of the risks they’re at from even the simplest of repetitive tasks. By sharing this, cooperation and participation can be greatly enhanced.
Additionally, it’s important that you have a way in place to track employee participation. This helps you to visualize the effectiveness of the programs, benchmark successes, and identify which employee groups may be at greater risk for non-compliance.
If you’re looking for some additional information on implementing these programs and the technological solutions that already exist to help, we’d encourage you to reach out to Net Health today. The company’s specialized EHR solution not only offers the best in the business technology for traditional EHR needs, but it also offers specialized employee compliance tracking that is ideal for the successful implementation of ergonomic programs.
If you’re interested, we’d highly encourage you to schedule a free demo today.
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1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/case/msds.htm, 2020.
2 University of California, https://www.ucop.edu/safety-and-loss-prevention/_files/ergonomics/ergo-program-document.pdf, 2022.