It’s a simple question: why use occupational health specialists instead of a general practitioner, an emergency department, or an immediate medical center? If for no other reason, think money. Every business is in business because it makes money. Businesses buy their supplies and services based on the best price, best quality, or a combination of the two. When savings and quality are maximized, it’s a win-win for the company. Occupational health is no different.
Consider the published conclusions of a study conducted by one insurance company in 2003. A review of more than 4,200 closed claims filed with Atlantic Mutual Insurance Company revealed that when compared to any number of general practice settings, occupational medicine clinics are an extremely cost-effective method of controlling workers’ compensation costs while maintaining patient satisfaction. When compared to general practitioners, the use of an occupational medicine clinic resulted in:
• Total claim costs decreasing 52 percent.
• Indemnity costs on lost-time injury claims dropping 49 percent.
• Direct medical costs declining 29 percent.
• Average lost time decreasing 14 percent.
• Legal costs dropping 54 percent.
• Litigation case rates falling to 1 in 20.
In our June 2005 article, we discussed the importance of using occupational medicine specialists for a host of reasons. Specifically, we looked at the importance of the occupational medicine field in terms of pre-employment physicals. “When an athlete is traded from one professional team to another, the trade is always contingent upon the athlete passing a specialized physical. The physician performing this physical is well acquainted with the routine, the training structure, and the requirements of an athlete to successfully perform for the new team. Any problems and the potential trade isn’t completed. Yet, every day employers allow their ‘industrial athletes’ to take their field with an inadequate physical…”
Lori Jones of Peoria’s Hawk Agency broadens the scope of the importance of the occupational health provider. Finding sources of expertise and development in the areas of safety training and education, injury management, light duty development and coordination, benefit compliance coordination, and safety programs can be daunting. However, while “this may seem overwhelming…an excellent resource is a full-service occupational medicine provider. These providers should be willing and able to help you develop post-offer physicals, write job descriptions, manage injuries, coordinate return-to-work situations, and help with safety programming,” she said.
There are so many reasons to use someone who knows your business for occupational health. IWIRC Corp Medical Director Dr. Christine Cisneros said, “Exceptional occupational medical services are critical to being competitive in the global economy. Medical costs are costs added to all products and services offered by companies in the tri-county area.”
Finding the right source for medical services should be no different than finding the right supplier or vendor for other products and services in your company. In fact, the difference in providers can make a world of difference in your bottom line. IBI