Wouldn’t it be nice if when your doctor’s office prescribed you a medication you could get it right there too? Or how about getting an X-ray or nerve conduction test that could be conducted on the same day and in the same facility? What about seeing a physical therapist?
People have become accustomed to pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, or physical therapy not commonly offered in the same office or at the same time of family practitioner visits, 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 health care. 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 $15.00 per hour and are injured 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 $365.00 ($100.00 medical, $240.00 indemnity (three lost workdays at 2/3 pay), and $25.00 administrative). Employee (B) seeks medical treatment at a cost of $100 and is returned to work immediately, possibly on a modified duty program, which is communicated to the employer clearly and expediently. Total approximate cost is $100.00. Depending on which medical provider chosen, there is a $265.00 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 2 or sometimes 3 different locations for all their appointments. Driving to the doctor’s office, then the pharmacist, then the physical therapist can be wearing on the employee and may cause the employee to question the care they’re receiving. Maybe the employee will seek legal representation between trips from the doctor to the therapist for their 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, “Am I and my employees getting the most out of our medical provider for our occupational health needs? Who’s looking out for my best interests?”