Wouldn’t it be nice if your doctor’s office prescribed you a medication you could get right there too? Or how about getting a required x-ray or nerve conduction test on the same day and in the same facility? What about seeing a physical therapist?
People have become accustomed to on-site pharmaceuticals, diagnostics or physical therapy not commonly offered in the same office or at the same time as visits to family practitioners, ambulatory care facilities or even hospital-based programs. What’s even scarier is that employers have become used to this fact as well and continue to utilize these medical providers for their employees’ occupational healthcare. The issue in occupational health is when a medical provider cannot offer these services in a single patient visit, the medical provider ends up raising employers’ medical and indemnity costs related to that injury or illness. Employers may not realize that a medical provider specializing in occupational health does exist offering a comprehensive one-stop-shop approach.
Consider this scenario: Two employees earn $15 per hour and are injured in exactly the same way on the job.
- Employee A seeks medical treatment at a cost of $100 and does not return to work for five days. The employer is not provided any immediate medical information and must manage this case themselves. Total approximate cost is $365 ($100 medical, $240 indemnity—three lost workdays at ²/³ pay—and $25 administrative).
- Employee B seeks medical treatment at a cost of $100 and is returned to work immediately on a modified-duty program that is communicated to the employer clearly and expediently. Total approximate cost is $100.
Depending on which medical provider is chosen, there is a $265 difference, more than double the cost for the same injury. This does not take into consideration the increase in insurance premiums for scenario A due to an increase in “Experience MOD rate” caused by recordable lost workdays.
Not only is a one-stop-shop approach beneficial for the employer, it’s also beneficial for the employee/patient because now they’re not being asked to drive to two or sometimes three different locations for all of his or her appointments. Driving to the doctor’s office, then to the pharmacist, then to the physical therapist can be wearing on the employee and may cause the employee to question the care he or she is receiving. Maybe the employee will seek legal representation between trips from the doctor to the therapist for the work-related injury?
Ultimately employers have the most control over their occupational health and workers’ compensation costs by choosing a medical provider who specializes in occupational health and offers a comprehensive treatment program. Employers may want to ask themselves, “Are my employees and I getting the most out of our medical provider for our occupational health needs? Who’s looking out for my best interests?” iBi