On-Site Occupational Healthcare Fills a Vital Role in Advancing Innovative Care Initiatives

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Low angle view of female nurses pushing patients on wheelchairs with doctor walking at corridor in hospital

The move toward value-based care (VBC) has clear, undeniable benefits for patients, providers and payers. But many providers are understandably concerned about the unique pressures they face to meet quality and outcome standards when so much of a patient’s health is beyond their control. Not to mention, overwhelming demand for care is straining the system, making it harder for patients to access the preventative care from traditional healthcare networks they need to stay well.

But a new wave of occupational health—preventative care services delivered on-site at the workplace—can play an important role in filling healthcare gaps and offer much-needed relief for overwhelmed providers. At the same time, it uncovers key data that providers, employers and payers can all use to improve individual and population health and lower the cost of care and coverage. 

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These benefits can ultimately help employers get the most from their most important asset—their people. Innovative preventative care at the workplace will also enable traditional providers and payers the opportunity to advance value-based care initiatives by lowering risk and maximizing resources for healthcare organizations. Here’s how.

Unprecedented pressure demands a new approach

Between genetics, geography, lifestyle and patient compliance with recommended treatments, there are many confounding factors well outside providers’ control that can negatively impact patients’ overall health. And in a VBC model, those negative factors directly reduce providers’ revenue. With chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and more at an all-time high, it’s extremely difficult for providers to meet VBC standards for quality and patient outcomes. 

Given the enormous backlog of care created by the pandemic, plus the shortage of providers relative to demand, it’s extremely difficult for them to effectively monitor and manage patients’ health. Limited availability for appointments means patients with chronic conditions often go months or more without preventative care, routine screenings and diagnostics.

All of this has a negative impact on employers as well. When employees are unwell, productivity declines, absenteeism increases and critical illnesses may be at a advanced stages which severely compounds the current labor shortage. Not to mention, it costs exponentially more to insure employees who struggle with chronic and acute health issues.

On-site occupational health can be the solution

On-site preventative care services can help resolve all these issues for providers, payers, employers and employees. With routine screenings like blood tests, disease testing and more available in the workplace to support health management, providers gain additional data points to monitor patients’ health, which can bolster care quality and outcome metrics without having to schedule visits. This not only reduces demand on providers’ time, but it also allows them to focus on more complex cases—and higher value transactions—while keeping reimbursements as high as possible. 

For payers, these on-site services ensure members get easy access to preventative care, to detect issues early and monitor existing conditions. This can encourage positive health behaviors and reduce the need for acute or emergency care and major medical interventions, therefore substantially lowering the cost of caring for the member population. 

For employers, providing access to preventative care on-site is an investment in maintaining their most valuable asset: their people. Just like companies engage in routine maintenance on equipment or IT networks, their employees require and deserve the same level of care. By enabling better health for their people, employers can also reduce the risk of major medical issues that result in lost time, reduced productivity and higher benefit costs. 

It’s also extremely convenient. When employees can get necessary health screenings at work, they don’t have to take time off, which makes them more likely to actually get those preventative services done, instead of putting them off at the risk of worsening their health. This is obviously beneficial for patients, but also for providers who get the added support in keeping patients healthy, for employers who can reduce lost time and productivity, and for employees who can keep their PTO for recharging and relaxing rather than running to doctor’s appointments.  

New Occupational Health Compliments the Established Healthcare Network

Some healthcare organizations could potentially view on-site occupational healthcare as taking patients away from their facilities. But in actuality, employer-provided preventative care can actually benefit traditional healthcare providers both logistically and financially. 

It eases the burden on a strained system, allowing traditional healthcare providers to focus on providing high-touch care to their high priority, most vulnerable patients. It also gives providers and payers valuable insights into patient wellness as patients are now in touch with their health as a result of these programs provided by their employers. This model ultimately helps to improve overall patient and population health, which can improve efficiency, quality and patient outcomes to increase reimbursements in a value-based care model.