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10 Questions to Ask Before Choosing an Occupational Health Provider  

questions to ask your occupational health provider

Choosing an occupational health provider is a lot like shopping for shoes: You can go almost anywhere and find something that will work, but finding the right fit takes some time and patience. Once you’ve done your preliminary research and determined what your organization needs out of an occupational healthcare program, you need to start interviewing those providers who have made it to your short list.  

To help you further narrow down your options in the hopes of arriving on that provider that will serve you and your employees well, here are 10 crucial questions to ask before choosing an occupational health provider.  

1. What Occupational Health Services Do You Offer Beyond the Basics?  

Almost every occupational health provider offers basic injury care for those times when your employees are injured on the job. And while that may serve most of your needs, you want a provider that has a broad skillset and is able to respond to shifts in your needs.  

The best occupational health providers have multiple specialized capabilities and are flexible in the services they provide your organization. If you’re a manufacturing plant that gets a big contract requiring your team to temporarily add an overnight shift, you need an occupational health provider that can scale your clinic services to match the expanded hours, or that offers a 24/7 injury triage line to help those workers on the late shift.  

An occupational healthcare provider that’s right for your needs can also be found in those little value-added services that you may not realize come with your partnership. Things such as onsite drug test sample collection, respirator fit testing and blood pressure checks can seem small in the scope of a full-scale occupational health partnership, but they can have a big impact for you and your workers.  

2. Can You Tailor Your Services to Meet Our Unique Industry Needs and Workforce Demographics?  

Just like regular healthcare isn’t one size fits all, occupational healthcare shouldn’t be, either. The occupational health needs of a construction worker will be different from someone who works in a food processing plant.   

You need a provider that not only has the skills and experience necessary to deal with conditions unique to your industry — such as welding injuries that come from manufacturing facilities or electrocution common in energy generation and distribution — but one that is prepared to tailor their services to meet those needs.   

Just as different industries have different occupational healthcare requirements, different worker populations have different needs. One organization may require more onsite drug testing or overdose response services, while another may need smoking cessation services. Finding an occupational health provider that can help you identify and respond to these needs is going to give your workers the best possible care.  

3. What Is Your Team’s Depth of Experience in Occupational Health?  

Not every provider that says they offer occupational healthcare focuses solely on that service. Some organizations, seeking to diversify, have branched out into the occupational health space without the years of experience to back up their offerings.  

To find the best level of care for your workers, it’s important to find an occupational health provider whose main focus is providing time-of-need care to ill and injured workers. Even better, look for a provider that has experience in an occupational healthcare setting in your specific industry.  

The more experience a provider has, the more prepared their teams will be to respond to a variety of situations. This will help your workers receive the best care, even in unusual instances.  

4. How Do You Stay Updated on Industry Best Practices and Emerging Trends?  

Providing exceptional care to your workers goes beyond just drawing on past education and experience. Your occupational health provider must stay on top of the latest shifts in the healthcare industry in general, and in occupational healthcare. Additionally, keeping updated on changes to laws and regulations — including workers’ compensation laws and more — is key to ensuring that your organization stays compliant and avoids fines and penalties.  

A provider whose teams are backed by certified, experienced occupational medicine practitioners and compliance experts is going to be well-suited to giving your workers the care they need and providing you with a compliant program.   

5. Are Your Providers Certified or Experienced in Occupational Medicine?  

Having licensed, experienced medical professionals to assist your workers with their on-the-job illnesses and injuries is the absolute minimum you should expect out of your occupational health provider. However, these individuals may not be skilled or experienced in the unique health and safety challenges your workers face.  

The right occupational health provider for your needs employs medical professionals with deep occupational health knowledge, making them ready to respond to various situations. If your occupational healthcare team includes individuals with experience specific to identifying and treating injuries or illnesses common to your industry, even better. This means your care team will be poised to help your workers in most situations, responding calmly to provide the best care possible.  

6. What Strategies Do You Employ to Promote Proactive Health and Safety in Client Organizations?  

Caring for your workers when they’re ill or injured is the basis of your occupational health program. But preventing accidents and intervening at the first sign of an injury is key to avoiding injuries altogether, dramatically reducing your claims numbers and helping you control costs.   

The best occupational health providers actively work to prevent accidents and injuries, offering safety programs, proactive injury prevention and other strategies to keep your workers safe and healthy. A partner that regularly evaluates how your team works, looking for any potential hazards or conditions that may contribute to injuries, then works to correct those issues, is going to pay off in the long run by decreasing your rates of work-related injuries.  

7. What Protocols Do You Have in Place to Handle Medical Emergencies?  

While the goal of an occupational health program is to give your workers the quickest care possible when they’re ill or injured, it isn’t always possible for your care team to manage every incident on their own. There will still be situations where a worker needs outside care, and how your care team handles these situations can make a big difference in health outcomes for your workers and costs for your business.  

If your care team sends workers offsite for every illness or injury, many won’t receive the appropriate level of care for their needs. You need an occupational health partner that carefully identifies the situations where a worker needs offsite care and helps to navigate your employees to the right occupational health-focused facility to meet their needs. For those workers whose condition can be managed with first aid, your occupational health team either directly provides the treatment to the worker, or they can capably communicate what needs to be done over the phone.  

The better equipped your occupational health provider is to offer care without additional interventions, the more satisfied your employees will be with the care, the faster they will return to work and the more controlled your overall costs will be.  

8. How Do You Leverage Technology to Streamline Occupational Health Management and Enhance the Employee Experience?  

Technology is a crucial part of the healthcare process, used for everything from storing patient information to assisting with providing direct patient care. But simply having technology for technology’s sake isn’t an efficient use of anyone’s time and money.   

Instead, your occupational health team should utilize technology to streamline and enhance the care they provide. Care algorithms that guide a medical professional through the process of evaluating and triaging a worker’s injuries, for example, can draw on years of evidence and medical knowledge to arrive at a fairly accurate diagnosis and care plan.   

9. How Do You Measure and Track Key Performance Indicators?  

Providing care to your ill and injured workers is great, but you won’t be able to tell if you’re managing costs and reducing injury rates, improving return-to-work rates and decreasing claims and recordables without tracking the right data. And if you can’t connect this data to your business’ key performance indicators, it will be difficult to make a long-term case for maintaining your occupational health program.  

The right occupational health provider for your needs will work with you to identify the occupational health-related KPIs that matter to your organization, and help you connect those KPIs with data they collect. Your provider also should be willing to adjust their data collection as your KPIs change, helping you ensure your occupational health program is not only helping your workers, but also helping your business succeed.  

10. How Do You Safeguard Patient Confidentiality and Ensure Compliance with Relevant Privacy Laws and Regulations?  

Having an occupational healthcare program may make your workers nervous. They may worry that their personal medical information won’t be kept secure, or that their visit to your care team will become lunchroom gossip.   

To prevent this, you must find a provider that adheres to the strictest rules and regulations for data and medical records privacy. At minimum, they should have systems in place to ensure compliance with any federal, provincial or local regulations your business may fall under. These systems should extend into reporting any incidents when managing workers’ compensation claims.  

Your Complete Occupational Health Provider  

At Medcor, we pride ourselves on providing the most exceptional occupational healthcare services possible to all our clients, regardless of their unique needs. From onsite clinics and mobile treatment centers to 24/7 injury and illness triage, our teams can provide your workers with the best care available while helping you reduce claims and manage costs. Speak with an advocate today.