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Whether you’re a startup or an established clinic considering the addition of OccMed to your service offerings, this guide will help you decide what’s right for you, offer tips for starting and positioning OccMed to new and existing customers, and provide helpful information to support your expansion into this profitable service line.
Many urgent care clinics today are choosing to add additional service lines to increase profitability.
One of the best performing add-ons over the last few years has been occupational medicine (OccMed). Because OccMed ensures a consistent flow of business throughout the year, it helps urgent care clinics increase annual revenue, increase patient volume, and evens out the volume of revenue throughout the year. It also builds awareness for your clinic when those same patients need medical care outside of work situations.
It’s important to understand workplace medicine, your market, and the healthcare community in your region before you decide to expand your business by adding OccMed.
Whether you’re a startup or an established clinic considering the addition of OccMed to your service offerings, this guide will provide helpful information to support your expansion into this profitable service line.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!
Occupational medicine, sometimes called workplace medicine, is employer-provided healthcare services that promote the health and safety of employees and also protect the financial well being of employers. When done right, OccMed provides exceptional care to injured or ill employees and keeps them on the job whenever possible. This is not only good for employees, but keeps businesses functioning efficiently with a full—and healthy—staff.
OccMed is divided into two primary categories: Workers’ Compensation Case Management and Employer-paid Health Services.
You may be surprised to learn that you are already providing many of the same services that OccMed providers routinely offer to business clients, which makes this service line appealing to many urgent cares.
Before deciding if you should provide OccMed at your urgent care, let’s look at what services are offered under the occupational medicine umbrella.
Workers’ comp case management accounts for 90 percent of OccMed visits and includes evaluating and treating injuries and illnesses that occur on the job site, often as the result of an accident or exposure to specific hazardous materials.
Workers’ comp insurance, paid by employers, helps employers provide immediate healthcare services for workers who have a workplace-related injury or illness. In return, the employee does not sue the employer for any cost.
OccMed covers immediate treatments and check-ups, depending on the employer’s insurance carrier. Each state has different laws regarding workers’ comp claims—and each insurance carrier varies in policy coverage. Most of us are familiar with workers’ compensation in relation to accidents and injuries on the work-site. According to the 2007 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, the top five causes of the most disabling work injuries are:
Fortunately, research from the Bureau of Labor Statistic indicates a 13-year trend of declines in job related injuries or illnesses for workers in private sector industries.
Industry is another variable that often determines common workplace injuries and illnesses.
Research also indicates that more and more companies are investing in workplace safety and wellness, resulting in programs that attend to the health needs of workers who have not been injured or ill, like the following less familiar visit types related to workers’ compensation:
A fitness for duty exam is the medical examination of a current employee to determine whether the employee is physically or psychologically able to perform the job. These exams are issued by employers after an employee has suffered a serious injury or illness on or off the job—or if an employer doubts that an employee can safely perform his or her job. Employers face more restrictions for issuing this exam if the employee’s condition qualifies as a disability.
An independent medical exam (IME) can be performed by a contracted doctor of an employee to determine the cause, extent, or medical treatment of a work-related issue when liability is in question. Employers may legally request an IME to receive an independent opinion of an employee’s clinical status and whether impairment remains after treatment. If a condition is not related to a work injury or illness, the employer and insurance carrier can deny claims.
“If you’re growing a relationship with a prospective employer, your management and staff should be able to confidently explain service options—and also give reasons why the employer should use them.”
Employer-paid services (EPS) include most OccMed visits that don’t fall into workers’ comp categories. These services are likely related to pre-employment or annual preventable employee-care appointments throughout the year. EPS includes scheduled employee visits, rather than injury or illness-related walk-ins. When it comes to OccMed and employer paid services, prospective employers need help understanding services your urgent care can provide to support their employee health goals. Your entire staff should be aware of the range of options you have available so they can help spread the word. If you’re growing a relationship with a prospective employer, your management and staff should be able to confidently explain service options—and also give reasons why the employer should use them. EPS can include any of the following visits:
Pre-employment exams are requested by employers before offering a job to ensure the fitness of the prospective employee. Exams could include a general physical exam, along with a vision or hearing test, depending on the nature of the job. Lung capacity and heart health may also be tested. A physical ability test (PAT) can screen for strength and grip for heavy-lifting jobs. Employers cannot discriminate based on preexisting conditions, unless they interfere directly with job responsibilities.
Required by many employers as a prerequisite to employment, drug screening is a common OccMed service. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has specific requirements for employees in the driving profession and therefore has standard practices for pre-hire and ongoing employee testing as state laws require. Other agencies and regulated industries may also require specific testing.
Employers can require ongoing, annual employee testing to ensure employee fitness. These exams can include hearing or vision tests, step or heart testing, lung capacity, or random drug and alcohol screenings.
Employers must follow state laws when requiring employees to participate in these exams. Employment may be terminated for workers who fail exams.
Annual or recurring check-ups and procedures such as flu shots or blood pressure checks are health services that can be offered by an employer. Often referred to as wellness appointments or workplace check-ups, employee health can include immunizations, prevention screenings, first aid training, and CPR classes. Nutrition and fitness coaching are also included in general employee health services. These services are generally offered at the workplace to employees during business hours.
Employers are required by OSHA law to provide a safe workplace. Part of this obligation includes employee safety, including training to identify occupational health hazards and correct handling of hazardous materials.
Other safety services can include ergonomic evaluations, CPR certification, and proper use of protective equipment for all occupational health hazards (which include blood-borne pathogens and chemical or biological hazards). Training can include proper storage and waste disposal requirements for hazardous materials, and proper employee procedures should exposure or physical harm occur.
If you’re considering OccMed services, you’re not alone. A majority of urgent cares offer some level of OccMed options to their patients and regional employers. Several larger urgent care operations, such as Concentra and U.S. Health Works, specialize in offering employer paid healthcare services. Chances are you’re already serving occupational medicine or workers’ compensation needs for patients, even if you don’t offer employer-paid services right now.
According to the Urgent Care Association (UCA) 2018 Benchmarking Report, 97% of clinics offer vaccines, 92% offer urinary drug testing, 67% offer breath alcohol testing, and 64% provide auditory testing/screening. In addition, 98% of clinics reported offering on-site lab services (CLIA waived or higher).
73% of the urgent cares that participated in the UCA Benchmarking Report indicated they include OccMed in their centers. OccMed typically includes workers’ compensation and pre-employment screenings for company wellness programs and annual employee checkups. When adding employer-paid services, your clinic takes on both an employer as a client, but also all its employees as patients. This is ideal because urgent care visits are cyclical and vary by season in terms of volume. Scheduled OccMed visits and guaranteed walk-in workers’ comp visits are strategies for maintaining balanced patient visits for your clinic throughout the year.
So why doesn’t every urgent care clinic have a strong OccMed arm to their business? Urgent cares may shy away from OccMed services due to a perception of its highly regulated nature, including documenting and sharing patient information with employers and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In addition, some are wary of the longer revenue cycle, due to claims processing through employers’ insurance carriers.
Implementing practical processes and ensuring awareness of legal issues requires up-front planning and staff training; however, clinics not offering OccMed services are cutting off a valuable patient base and revenue funnel for their clinic.
With protocols in place for each employer, OccMed appointments can be the most predictable and streamlined visit types your clinic can perform. In addition to pre-employment physicals and wellness checks, employer-paid services also help patients get immediate treatment for work-related accidents or injuries. With OccMed services, providers help employers stay in compliance with a variety of state laws and OSHA regulations for employee protection.
One of the biggest and perhaps least leveraged advantages of offering OccMed services is the opportunity it provides clinics to increase brand awareness. When patients come to your urgent care for a workers’ compensation evaluation or other employment-related service, they learn about you, your providers, and the extraordinary service you provide.
If you take this opportunity to wow them with the experience, they’ll be back when they’re sick or injured—and bring their families, too.
If they have a good and memorable experience at your urgent care, they will recommend you when others are looking for urgent care services.
To decide what OccMed services you’ll offer, get to know the workplace health needs of employers in your region. For example, if you have many in-workplace nutrition coaches in the area, wellness services may not be a good choice.
To provide services employers want, test individual options with a company’s employees as a trial run, or encourage an employer-initiated survey to ask employees’ opinions.
The services you decide to offer could vary widely based on the types of employers in your area. For areas with large manufacturing employers, workers’ comp services may be a priority. If the area has more white-collar employers, pre-employment and wellness programs are likely a more appropriate fit. Tour potential employer facilities before settling on service lines to evaluate the actual needs and potential service opportunities.
Most importantly, determine whether specific workplace health services will be profitable for your urgent care. You might not make money on flu shot clinics, but workers’ comp visits may be a viable revenue source. Ensure your clinical choices match financial goals for your urgent care.
Once you settle on what services you’re going to offer, prepare your staff and provide marketing materials to help you meet your goals. Training is essential to be sure staff members know and understand the OccMed services you offer. In addition, ongoing training should be required at every urgent care clinic.
The relationships you build with OccMed customers can be a starting point for new urgent care patients and referrals. Look at every OccMed visit as an opportunity to introduce yourself and your urgent care services to OccMed patients and ensure they have a positive experience. Excellent service goes a long way to beefing up your patient base. OccMed provides an initial surge of visit opportunities, so new urgent cares often use this technique to help build their business. To be successful however, clinics must deliver on promises and sell only the services they’re qualified to perform.
“Excellent service goes a long way to beefing up your patient base.”
How do you stand out in a sea of OccMed service providers? Take a good look at how you compare to your competition. What are the driving factors that bring patients into your clinic? How do employers in your area perceive your clinic? Identify and focus on your strengths.
Finding differentiating factors requires a close examination not only of your strengths, but also the strengths of other OccMed programs in your area.
Take your time defining your program, and if you don’t have many strengths over the competition, strategize how you can offer more attractive options to employers. Know your breakeven points and how many employers and patients it will take to make your program profitable. This will help you narrow down the services you should offer. To start off on the right foot, it may be necessary to initiate a thorough re-branding effort to reintroduce your clinic and its expanded service offerings.
For an excellent program launch, ensure staff are trained and ready to handle all things OccMed, which include:
When presenting an OccMed plan to prospective employers, be clear about the differences in service options available through your urgent care clinic and be forthcoming about contracted rates, payment information, and legal requirements for reporting. Clear and easy-to-access marketing materials, both printed and online, will help explain differences to employers, too.
Over the last few years, occupational medicine has become many strengths over the competition, strategize how you can offer more attractive options to employers. Know your break-even points and how many employers and patients it will take to make your program profitable. This will help you narrow down the services you should offer. To start off on the right foot, it may be necessary to initiate a thorough rebranding effort to reintroduce your clinic and its expanded service offerings.
Once you’ve decided on the OccMed services you’d like to add to your urgent care, you’ll be able to define your OccMed program, and start selling OccMed services.
Your clinic will now need to research prospects and competitors, create a clinic-wide communication plan, assign responsibility for sales, make short- and long-term sales plans, and then hit the streets to get face-to-face with prospects.
You have likely completed a preliminary scan of prospective employers to ensure your OccMed program is viable in your community. Now it’s time to fine tune your list of target customers by answering the following questions:
If you have nearby urgent care or health system competitors, they may also be offering OccMed services. If they are courting the same employers as you, these prospects may be willing to share competitor information with you—if you can make them a competitive offer.
If not, do some old-fashioned research including in-depth scouting of public competitor information online and off. Services may be publicly listed, but fees may be more difficult to determine. To establish a profitable practice, you must differentiate yourself from other OccMed providers.
This begins with clearly defining your OccMed program. If you can’t offer employers anything different than your competitors, you’ll have a more difficult time selling your services.
How do you stand out? Do you offer superior service? Are you open early or late? Do your providers have special certifications or are they well known in the community? Answer these questions and make it the focus of your sales efforts. You’ll likely need to reposition your brand to be sure the community knows you provide OccMed services in addition to urgent care. They may already be using your urgent care for injured workers which makes them a hot prospect.
For your sales plan, it’s wise to target prospective employers and place them in segments so you can better target your message. The most common employer segments for selling OccMed services are:
When selling OccMed, you need to speak directly to your target audience and understand its needs. This involves knowing your audience and their individual pain points as businesses.
The following are some general characteristics of each segment that might help you understand them and determine your sales approach.
Small businesses tend to be the most cost-conscious with mom-and-pop owners often wearing multiple hats. Focused on reducing unnecessary costs, small businesses often hire family members, have a mentality of taking care of their own, and want to reduce lost employee time. They are often hard to upsell and when not required by law, don’t provide workers’ comp insurance to employees.
Service industries want to contain costs and often have high employee turnover. Examples include daycares, hotels, banks, construction companies, and restaurants.
Service employers have more workers’ comp claims, tend to require drug screens, and need a variety of services. They are likely to be interested in screening services and injury and illness prevention.
National chains drug screen consistently and follow OSHA guidelines. They are governed by siloed corporate offices with structured communication lines that result in slow decision making and a longer sales cycle for OccMed services.
They may already be using your urgent care for injured workers which makes them a hot prospect.
Large businesses employ more than 50 people and are often involved in manufacturing or process production. They are alert to OSHA recordability requirements and are concerned about lost employee time. Visit cost is less important to them than saving time and money for the company.
They participate in workers’ comp insurance programs, understand case management, and they appreciate onsite clinics.
Similar to large business, municipalities and governmental entities (e.g. city or county police, fire departments, public works, and school districts) are large employers and often fall under Department of Transportation and NFPA regulations. The bidding process for contracts is often more complicated than in the private sector. For these groups, thorough record-keeping is essential. Employee health and wellness are motivators for an easy upsell.
Who is going to be responsible for selling OccMed services? That’s simple— everyone on your urgent care team. As with urgent care services, your providersare your main appeal in selling your services. They are the face of your clinic, provide the care, and are ultimately responsible for establishing your clinic’s reputation. An excellent way to promote credibility for new OccMed services is to encourage your providers to reach out to employers, tour their buildings, and offer helpful lunch and learns on topics these prospective customers are interested in.
All clinical staff needs to be well versed in your OccMed offerings. Your team will provide care, relay vital information to employers, and also represent your clinic both to employers and their employees. Receptionists are the first point of contact, so they need to articulate OccMed and urgent care service differences and requirements to patients, and ensure all protocols are being followed for each individual employer.
Selling starts with building strong relationships. Sales and marketing efforts need to focus on growing relationships with employers before you’ll win their trust—and a contract. You must prove your partnership is beneficial to them. Selling your services is yet another cap worn by staff who have other responsibilities. Make sure time is carved out in their schedules to not only maintain their core responsibilities, but also to grow opportunities with OccMed employers.
Whether on-site or at another location, your sales staff will be your intermediary between your clinicians and your community. Your administration and billing staff have an essential role in the success of your OccMed program. They are the link to ensure reporting and billing is accurate— sending information between clinicians and employers.
These individuals need to be trained on OccMed specifics, and understand compliance and regulations affecting employers such as the Department of Transportation and OSHA rules and regulations.
If you’re not hiring additional providers to help support your OccMed efforts, your current providers will need to become Board Certified in OEM (Occupational and Environmental Medicine).
Increasing access to your providers helps you naturally promote OccMed services. Here are ways you can include providers in your marketing process:
Providers can also help with the direct sales process, and in many cases, can be a difference maker for an employer choosing your OccMed services over a competitor. Here are ways you can include providers in your sales process:
Now you have employers segmented, know which businesses you want to sell to, and define who is doing the selling and marketing.
It’s time to execute your game plan and sell OccMed services to targeted prospective employers. Here are some best practice selling tips to increase your success rate.
Before hitting the streets, prioritize your prospects into primary, secondary, and tertiary categories based on your sales plan. Choose which employers you’d like to approach and when. The following examples can help you create a plan that will work for you.
Employers who will refer workers’ comp injuries and are likely to provide employer-paid services to their employees.
Employers who will refer workers’ comp injuries and provide employer-paid services, but will take longer in the decision making process.
Employers who don’t see employer-paid services as a necessity or only use services occasionally.
To be respectful, make a conscious effort to schedule appointments ahead of time. Choose someone with a persuasive personality to identify the company’s decision makers and set appointments. Remember, OccMed decision makers are often influenced by human resource professionals, safety directors, and office managers. Their support will go a long way to securing the sale.
If you drop in on employers, you are less likely to establish an interest level, especially if you haven’t built a relationship before arriving in person. However, you can respectfully leave behind marketing materials which can be used as an icebreaker when you follow up with a second contact.
When you do speak to a decision maker in person, invite him or her on a tour of your clinic and a meeting with your medical director. Showing off your facilities and introducing prospects to your providers can give them an opportunity to see your people and services in action and may help you close the sale.
While cold calls can be potential timesavers, they are seldom as effective as scheduled in-person meetings with prospects. Should you choose to make a cold call, be deliberate about who you call on. Larger companies often see cold calls as a small business approach and may put your reputation on the line. Alternatives to cold calls include marketing with emails, open houses, and hosting facility tours. Or consider a phased marketing approach by beginning with a digital or print marketing push, followed by calls, and then in-person appointments.
When establishing your initial relationship, it may be difficult to identify the decision maker responsible for purchasing OccMed services. Try to find the name of the decision makers and ask how best to get in touch with them.
Request an email address and phone number. Asking for a person by name versus job title can help increase your success when setting an appointment. It is sometimes helpful to set meetings with personnel that influence primary decision makers such as HR personnel, safety directors, office managers, district managers, shift supervisors, and business owners.
Rejection is a given in the sales process. You won’t be a good fit for every employer, but in some cases, you can provide solutions that will have a big impact on their business. Your job is to show them how you can make their work easier, their business more profitable, and why it matters.
Don’t give up when you get an initial “no thanks”. Ask why they aren’t interested, but find out what they do like about your offerings. Then try to ascertain why they will not consider you. It could be your price, your clinic location, satisfaction with current provider, or a past history of dissatisfaction with urgent cares or other OccMed service providers.
Knowing the reason for rejection will help you strengthen your value proposition or restructure your own OccMed program when you sell to the next potential employer. Always be prepared to respond to a rejection with a scripted rebuttal stating clear benefits regarding employee health, time and money savings, and less paperwork and legal hassle.
Talk about their biggest challenges and give them solutions that can be personalized to meet their specific needs. And let them know you will be calling again at a later time if you have new information and opportunities they may be interested in.
Finally, leave relevant materials behind, ask for a contact name, and get more information about the employer so you can regroup and try again with a more targeted sales strategy.
Don’t leave a meeting without sharing information about the OccMed solutions you provide. When an employer thinks about OccMed in the future–and they will–you want them to think about you first. Informational materials can be provided in both physical and digital format. The following are some examples:
When presenting an OccMed plan to prospective employers, be clear about the differences in service options available through your urgent care clinic and be forthcoming about contracted rates, payment information, and legal requirements for reporting. Clear and easy-to-access marketing materials, both printed and online, will help explain differences to employers, too.
Ensure you leave the visit with a follow-up plan. Confirm a second appointment, which could be a phone call, meeting, or tour of your facilities. If the employer requests more specifics such as detailed pricing or additional information on services, give him an ETA and respond quickly with answers or information as promised.
Confirm the correct contact information for the person you’ve met with so the information is accurate when you add it to your leads list for emails and follow-up.
If you don’t have one, you should create a leads list when you return to the office to help you organize and follow prospects through the sales funnel. Craft a marketing plan, determine how much time you will dedicate to closing sales, and qualify leads as you work through your list of hot, medium, and cold prospects. If a prospect wants a contract to consider, send a bid and negotiate fees as soon as possible after your in-person visit.
While some employers are a perfect it with your clinic, you may need to strategically choose some OccMed clients to help boost your reputation in the region. These employers may not bring you a significant profit, but will build your brand and help you get the attention of other employers.
These strategic clients are often referred to as loss-leaders. Carefully choose which and how many of these employers you are willing to take on without undermining your clinic’s bottom-line goals. Some clinics find OccMed doesn’t bring them profit because of regional limitations, but they still offer it to help promote their clinic in the community.
There is no magic bullet to selling OccMed. A lot depends on your team, your potential customers, your location, and your competition. However, many urgent cares have found success with self-promotion using the following selling techniques:
Develop general topics to present to potential employers at their locations. Build easily editable templates with general information that can be customized to each businesses’ needs. Create accessible, sharable presentations using audio, video, and interactive elements that can be reused as content for your website. Send your go-to experts with the most knowledge and best speaking abilities to make on-site presentations and leave a good impression.
Don’t be limited by what’s been done before; think of new ways to self-promote such as hosting a health fair for an employer in your area.
Preparation is key to successful clinic tours and open houses. For efficiency, have a standard walk-through procedure in place.
Choose hours that will bring you the most traffic and assign designated, knowledgeable “hosts” to lead the tour. Always introduce key staff, such as your medical director, reception personnel, and on-staff doctors. Explain a typical visit, and personalize presentations to emphasize employers’ unique needs and challenges. Do dry runs of clinic tours with staff to be sure they’re comfortable with visitors.
Education-focused events, seminars, and conferences are great opportunities to promote OccMed and further the goals of your urgent care. When presenting, choose dynamic, trending topics such as federal or state law changes or topics that are relevant locally. Not only does your participation promote your services, it helps you to establish your expertise in your community. Promote your event well in advance, and garner support from local community groups.
Invite potential employers personally and consider offering a post-event presentation, available for a fee.
Your website is an important information portal not only for your patients, but also for current and potential customers. Be sure it provides relevant, useful, easy-to-find information about the OccMed services you offer to employers. Keep information brief, fresh, and focused on what employers get out of a partnership with your clinic. Posting “Occupational health tips of the week” is one example of relevant information that is useful to employers. Ensure any emails you send are personalized, respectful, and to the point with a direct call to action. Send helpful content to potential employers, such as DOT changes or other relevant OSHA information to remind them that you can help them solve the challenges they face.
Before choosing to add OccMed as a service line, you did your research about the industry, answered tough questions about your clinic, and decided whether or not it was a good fit. The next steps are to find businesses that need workplace medicine services, winning their confidence, and finally their business.
Ultimately, you need to determine if an OccMed program is aligned with the goals of your urgent care and regional needs. If OccMed is right for you, be sure to implement best practices listed on the following pages to support the success of your program. This is not an exhaustive list, but rather a starting point and will give you a basic understanding of how an efficient—and successful— OccMed program operates.
Get informed and comfortable with the responsibilities required by local, state, and federal regulations before offering OccMed services at your clinic. It’s essential to understand your legal obligations before entering into contracts with employers and imperative that you adhere to best practices when performing services for your occupational medicine clients.
Since you will be their service provider, they will rely on your expertise, knowledge, and training to ensure they stay compliant.
If you’re not quite sure of yourself, hire an experienced OccMed professional to help you launch your program, and retain legal counsel to consult on contracts before beginning partnerships with employers.
If not, do some old-fashioned research including in-depth scouting of public competitor information online and off.
As an OccMed provider, both employers and their patients are clients. Serving the priorities of both parties can be a challenging balancing act. Meeting your responsibilities as a healthcare provider while meeting the expectations of the employer is crucial to excellent patient treatment, conscientious case management, and rigorous compliance.
Most employers will be sensitive to compliance and OSHA recordability, reducing employees lost time from work and overall restrictions and/or limitations placed on work duty.
Sadly, many employers are not familiar with the state and/ or federal agencies that oversee their respective industries. They rely on (or become reliant upon) your urgent care group to keep them compliant and to provide compliant services according to the current standards.
While arguably you are not legally responsible for what an employer does or does not do, appropriate guidance and information will make you a valuable partner, worthy of their appreciation and their business. Staying up-to date on applicable OSHA, Department of Transportation (DOT), and other regulations and rules will pay off in customer satisfaction and retaining business relationships.
Virtually every OccMed services provider will be called upon by clients to address OSHA compliance and the agency’s reporting requirements. OSHA recordability of an injury is a question that is posed by nearly every employer to the medical service provider. While it is NOT the medical provider’s (or the urgent care’s) responsibility to determine recordability, you definitely have the power to impact the final dispensation.
Employers determine OSHA recordables, and your clinic can serve patients responsibly without increasing OSHA audits for employers by practicing conscientious medicine. This starts with knowing how to provide excellent patient care without negatively affecting an employer’s reputation.
Common practice options to lower OSHA recordability while treating patients include:
In addition to staying up to date regarding OSHA recordability, urgent care providers should also be mindful of reducing lost time for the employee, and ultimately the employer. Healthcare providers should never feel responsible for making a decision that sends a patient/ employee home— that decision rests with the employer. It is the provider’s sole responsibility to effectively and safely treat the injured employee and determine what duties they can safely return to perform.
Then, it is the employer’s obligation to either accommodate those restrictions or, if there is no work available within the stated limitations, send the patient/ employee home.
So how can you as the service provider help the employer with this situation? Here are a few helpful tips that can be effective in reducing lost time and creating a partnership with a company to take care of its injured workers.
Remember, your goal for employers is to reduce time off required for patients. Your goal for patients is to provide quality treatment for the complaint, without compromising their health. These aren’t mutually exclusive if you communicate clearly and do your homework.
Effective OccMed case management requires close communication with employers and a team effort from every-one on your staff. Here are some simple strategies to support effective communication (especially for workers’ comp) with employers by staff role:
Requests for proposals can be complex or simple, depending on the issuing party. To improve your chances of securing a contract, make sure you understand the proposal and its terms before participating in the bid.
The following are a few tips to increase your odds.
Establishing a contract with an employer for OccMed services can be tricky. Contracts help enforce agreements with companies using your services, clarify business relationships, outline responsibilities, and provide guidance should disputes arise. The following are a few tips to protect your interests.
Establishing protocols is essential to a smooth patient visit and effective communication with employers. Protocols can be set up within your clinic’s EMR system to help staff check all necessary to-dos during the patient visit. Information to add in your EMR protocols should include (but not be limited to):
It’s inevitable some employers may not be the best fit for your OccMed services. When that happens, it’s in everyone’s best interest to sever your business relationship. Removing a client may be necessary when your clinic is experiencing loss of profits or deteriorating community relations because of your partnership.
Disagreements often happen over paperwork issues. Quality paperwork filing is your responsibility to the employer. Communication is key to ensure both you and the employer are on the same page. When issues arise, review situations seriously, and never quickly admit to fault (but don’t defer it unnecessarily either). Like any business relationship, trust and respect must be an underlying foundation to work through disagreements.
Reasonable resolutions that serve all parties can usually be found. Compromise involves give and take, and education often brings down barriers. Sometimes employers are not aware of changing rules and regulations. Explain the logic and reasoning for your actions and work together to achieve collective goals. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to lose a toxic client who demands more work than provides a return to your bottom line.
Keeping a happy client costs much less than getting new businesses to use your OccMed services. It’s important to stay in touch to ensure you’re serving them well and keeping the services you’re offering relevant to their changing business needs. Build strong relationships with your OccMed customers with these follow-up ideas:
In the same way that your urgent care clinic gets you in touch with the people that live in your community, OccMed connects you with area businesses. And because businesses are comprised of individuals, the reputation you earn by providing exceptional care to workplace clients can have far-reaching effects.
In earlier chapters, we explored the basics of launching an OccMed program at your urgent care. From making the decision to add this adjunctive service line to selling your services to the business community, we’ve explored effective marketing and establishing best practices—information you need to get your business off the ground.
Once you’ve set your goals, laid the foundation, and established your occupational medicine program, maintaining steady patient flow from current customers and acquiring new ones requires a longer-term strategy.
In this chapter, we’ll discuss ideas for taking your OccMed business to the next level.
To get your business up and running, you targeted the low-hanging fruit– businesses that were close by, in need of OccMed services, and more likely to provide employer paid health services to their employees. This target market was typically comprised of companies in the hospitality, service, and manufacturing industries whose employees are more likely to become injured on the job and utilize workers’ compensation.
We identified these businesses as Primary Targets, including:
When starting out, these types of employers may have helped you establish your urgent care as a reputable occupational health provider in the community. If you’re happy with the patient volume and the associated business coming into your clinic, pat yourself on the back. You’ve done a lot of things right. Be on the lookout for new businesses to replace any OccMed business that drops off, but too much prospecting may overextend your staff. The choice to grow your business may mean hiring more support personnel and having more providers available more often.
If your goal is to grow your OccMed program, it’s important to exhaust all your leads in the primary target category, then move on to those accounts that may be a little more difficult to acquire. Here are a couple ways to categorize your next targets.
National chains and larger organizations; employers who will refer workers’ comp injuries and provide employer-paid services, but will take longer to make business decisions. These include places like Lowes, Home Depot, and even large employers like the local school district or the police/fire municipality.
White collar businesses; employers who are less likely to refer workers’ comp claims; employers that will only need OccMed services occasionally; employers adding health or wellness services to their benefits program to attract high-caliber employees. This group may include companies that provide professional services such as financial institutions, insurance or real estate brokers, IT service providers, and social service agencies.
Securing the business of these employers may require a more strategic and concentrated effort—and it may take a bit longer.
To attract either of these targets requires one key attribute: patience.
When dealing with businesses like those mentioned in the “Secondary” group, recognizing that decisions are often not made at the local facility level is key to achieving any sort of success. Making repeated attempts to leave marketing material or speak with a store manager to solicit business is not only frustrating, but often a waste of resources.
Instead, focus your time and energy on identifying the decision maker within the organization. Locating a district manager or division head can often lead to speaking with the person who can actually success. Making repeated attempts to leave marketing material or speak with a store manager to solicit business is not only frustrating, but often a waste of resources.
Instead, focus your time and energy on identifying the decision-maker within the organization. Locating a district manager or division head can often lead to speaking with the person who can actually speak for the organization in negotiating occupational health services.
You may also consider a sort of back door approach. If you’ve exhausted all other attempts to connect with a national chain, try to approach them through the drug screening vendor. Certain chains, like Walmart, Lowe’s, or large trucking firms often have an exclusive contract with a particular drug screen testing lab, such as E-Screen or Quest. As a collection site for one of these labs, you have the opportunity to prove yourself to a chain by providing exceptional service to their local stores. Once these chains are aware of your ability to handle their drug screen collection, providing other OccMed services is a simple transition.
“Be sure to focus on the details– follow-up, thoroughness, communication.”
Patience is also important if you decide to approach a large group such as the local school district or a municipality. In these cases, it is not uncommon that the acceptable method for solicitation is via a sealed bid. Usually, these are conducted on a biannual basis (sometimes less frequent) and may be posted in the local newspaper, online, or in another public forum. It would be wise to become familiar with how this process takes place so you can apply in a timely manner. In addition, be prepared to create an organized, and well developed bid that will reflect not only the services that you intend to provide, but the professionalism, proficiency, and customer service that your organization is known for.
Finally, when considering how best to approach your tertiary targets, think of it as a softer sell. While most of these businesses may never utilize your services to the same extent that your higher-volume clients do, their expectations for excellent customer service is no less. Be sure to focus on the details—follow-up, thoroughness, communication. If it’s important in their business, emphasize it when delivering OccMed to them.
During your initial launch, you focused your sales and marketing efforts within the community. As you convert those leads into customers, the only place to go is further away from your clinic. But before you set your goals, it’s important to ask the following questions:
Before you pack your lunch and start seeking out additional occupational health clients from the surrounding area, first ask yourself, “Can I handle what I already have?” In other words, is your staff adequately managing the volume of OccMed currently coming into the facility? Are they trained adequately? Are you handling the reporting? Are there mistakes being made in performing the correct tests or services?
If you are managing current volume and have room for expansion—or you operate in an area where there simply isn’t another provider—then marketing beyond your initial reach is in order. But just how far should you go? That depends mostly on your setting.
If you’re located in a more suburban spot, your outer target radius may be smaller due to the presence of closer competition.
However, before you automatically give in, check to see if the competitor is vulnerable due to lack of available services, poor performance, or higher rates. If you’re located in a rural area, or you have a lock on the competition, then it’s not unreasonable to include the businesses in the immediate and surrounding counties as your tertiary territory.
Be sure to categorize businesses using the same list as mentioned in earlier chapters to help prioritize your efforts. But if there are no other medical resources available, just recognize that all you may have to do initially is let them know you’re out there and what you offer. This might be easily accomplished via a mailer or some other form of B2B contact. Once you’ve made contact with any of your secondary or tertiary targets, be diligent in your follow-up.
Make sure to meet expectations, address complaints (if any) in a timely manner, manage communication as promised, and anticipate needs and additional services. The key to success is being preemptive for problems and anticipatory to needs.
When we think of OccMed, the first things that come to mind are Workers’ Comp injury management, preemployment screenings, and physical examinations. As an urgent care that has just recently decided to offer OccMed services, these are a great place to start. As your comfort level and experience with occupational medicine grow, you may want to consider expanding the list of services you offer the business community.
It’s often in a company’s best interest to keep people healthy and on the job. Many businesses today are offering wellness programs as employment perks—not only because they understand the importance of good health, but because prospective employees may have a higher level of interest in building their careers at organizations that take a personal interest in their wellbeing. There are many opportunities for expanding your occupational medicine services. Consider the companies within a 20-mile radius and find services that are best suited to their needs.
The following is a good, but not exhaustive, list of OccMed specialties to consider.
Before offering one or any of the above services it is important to assess your organization’s readiness. Do you have staff that are trained, certified (if applicable), and prepared to perform the service in a competent and proficient manner?
Just because a prospective client is requesting a service does not mean you should rush to offer it. Examine the cost to offer the prospective service— including any necessary equipment or supply purchase, training or certification, and modifications to your current facilities. You should also factor in the need for additional staff for the long-term or on an interim basis.
And don’t forget to carefully consider what fee you might charge. If a competitor already offers the particular exam or test, can you do so at a cost that is competitive while still realizing a profit?
Or, is it worth proposing a pricing structure that will be a loss leader in hopes of earning or maintaining other business from the client.
OccMed sales will be an ongoing process for your urgent care. To achieve your goals, be sure you have a sales strategy based on timely goals: monthly, quarterly, annually. Update your list of target employers with new prospects and introduce new services to former prospects to spread the buzz about your clinic. In addition to your outreach efforts, you’ll need to ensure you’re up-to-date on new regulations, keep staff training fresh, maintain up-to-date client protocols, and continue to lead your market with new technology and medicine as it emerges.
Upselling current employers on new services that your facility can provide should also be part of your annual strategy.
Adding additional services such as baseline x-rays, urine drug testing, pulmonary function testing, or onsite employee wellness to a current employer may be an easier and more cost-effective way to spend time versus the effort it takes to find and convert a new employer.
And don’t forget to check in with your current clients regularly to make sure that the present services are meeting their needs and being delivered in a satisfactory manner.
To be sure you stay at the top of your game, hold checkpoint meetings with management (include representatives from clinical, reception, providers, and sales) to review client relationships, client issues, goals, and logistical challenges. Also, use these meetings to brainstorm ideas on how to improve and expand your OccMed program.
One of the things that will set your occupational medicine program apart from any other service provider is communication.
Everyone makes some mistakes, but your ability to recognize, communicate, and quickly correct will keep your organization a step ahead of other healthcare providers. Making sure you maintain open and frequent communication with your OccMed client from the first visit through followup will show that your occupational medicine program is dedicated to providing not only the best in medical care, but also first-rate customer service.
Launching your OccMed program may be the easiest part of the process. Making it successful and sustainable requires monitoring, evaluation, and evolving to include new elements.
Remember, occupational medicine sales and marketing is an ongoing process. Your focus is not just on the patient your medical team is caring for, but also the business client who employs them. Your goal should be to provide the very best service to both.
In the previous chapters, we’ve explored many aspects of launching your OccMed program and how to ensure its success. In this section, we’ll talk about the importance of collecting and using data to inform your everyday decisions and help you reach your long-term goals.
Data has become the foundation of making smart sales, marketing, and medical decisions.
It’s not only available online, but your EMR/PM software is usually collecting information that can help you identify trends and make informed choices about the healthcare services you offer.
What is data? Simple question, right? Until you think about it in terms of your occupational medicine business. Data for OccMed can be divided into two categories: Financial and Outcomes.
The first seems simple—pulling financial data seems relatively straightforward, right? Comparing costs and returns is the stuff that usually gets your accounting team salivating. But there can be a lot more to it than that.
Internally, you should be looking at your financials regularly. What services are returning a healthy profit? Which are lagging? Do you notice any trends related to reimbursement from your clientele? Are you staying competitive with fees? Most importantly, are you generating a profit in relationship to the amount of time, training, and staffing that it takes to perform the service?
Too often in the rush to gain the business, new operators will undersell their services, then never go back to adjust or research the industry standard for their region to institute a viable fee schedule. This results in a potential loss of revenue as well as an expectation of continued low pricing from the customer.
The second component of data, outcomes, is related to the medical outcomes experienced by the OccMed patients you treat at your urgent care facility. This data is often more difficult to obtain. Unlike financial information which can be easily collected from your accounts receivable and other available reports, outcome data must be gathered directly from your electronic medical record (EMR) files.
As you grow your OccMed business, it’s important to use the data you’re collecting for planning, adjusting service provisions, and setting future goals. But it’s also equally important to utilize data to evaluate quality service provision medically—quality assurance. While it’s critical to your business to monitor financials and patient satisfaction, one can never forget that the service we’re here to provide is medicine.
Once you have collected relevant data, what do you do with it? What use is it to you other than to stockpile reams of paper, kill the proverbial forest, and collect dust? Some operators feel like they aren’t doing their business justice if they don’t run a myriad of reports on a weekly, monthly, and annual basis.
But the reality is, if you don’t know how to interpret (and take action on) the data contained in those reports, the effort is meaningless.
It’s important to define just what it is you want to accomplish. What sorts of data should you be looking at for your occupational medicine business and what does all of it mean to you?
Most urgent care operators run and review a set of traditional operational reports on a set schedule. These include patient volumes, revenue, P&L, and collection reports. You will want to run these same reports specifically for the occupational medicine portion of your business. For instance, most EMR/ PM systems allow you to view information specifically related to OccMed patient visits—like the number of patient visits by CPT code, by employer, or even filtered by both.
You might wonder how that information might be helpful to your business or toward expanding your occupational medicine program? Think of it this way.
You can track what sorts of injuries or illnesses a corporate client is most frequently sending employees to be treated. If there is an obvious trend, let’s say lumbar strains, then you might consider offering baseline lumbar x-ray screening. Perhaps another upsell service could be back evaluations or lift training.
Data can also help you discover client based opportunities. When you compare data from one client company against another, you may find that a particular business utilizes your urgent care for certain medical needs, while a similar client does not. For example, you provide services to UPS and FedEx—both basically the same type of service provider. You run a report indicating that UPS employees are being sent in for yearly EKGs or audio testing, but FedEx employees aren’t getting the same tests. First, find out why UPS deems it necessary and prudent to request these tests. It may lead you to recommend similar services to FedEx— not only positioning you as an expert but also increasing revenue for your urgent care.
Or you could track better, faster outcomes. What if you were to look at how long the average workers’ compensation patient was in your care for a lumbar strain?
According to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), most lumbosacral injuries resolve within six weeks regardless of the treatment course. What if your data determined that the average resolution time was less than that? That’s a value that is worth sharing with current and prospective clients. From a quality assurance standpoint, it demonstrates that your urgent care is providing cost-effective, non-surgical, convenient care that most employers seek.
This information is not always easy to obtain. Clinical statistics based on the care you and your providers deliver can often be difficult to gather and may not be readily available from your EMR system. But with diligence in determining what information is important and coordinating that effort with your EMR vendor, it can generally be collected.
Comparing your data to national averages may be the hardest part of the equation. While there is plenty of information out there for urgent care operations to use for comparison— even general healthcare and treatment standards— occupational medicine data tends to be more closely protected than the final resting place of Jimmy Hoffa’s body.
Still, there are resources available. If you are diligent in looking and determined to create a robust occupational medicine program, searching for the comparative data is not impossible and is definitely worth doing.
When it comes to mining data, Google is a powerful research tool, and it can be your best friend. Be aware that it’s most effective when you use the right keywords.
For more reliable and relevant data, consider reaching out to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. ACOEM was founded in 1916 and has been the leader in North America for setting practice guidelines and supporting issues related to workplace/ environmental medicine.
The organization holds an annual conference, provides continuing education courses, and publishes a variety of papers, journals, blogs, and other forms of media on topics within the occupational medicine industry. Membership provides access to a wealth of information, including data.
Blogs specifically focused on OccMed are also useful places to find data and information. Subscribe to or follow those you find especially helpful. Here are two that always seem to have insightful, pertinent information.
WorkCare – A nationally based OccMed provider that offers everything from on-site providers, case management, disability management, and more. This blog frequently covers topics such as workplace illnesses, avoiding disability, marijuana in the workplace, and other timely topics.
HealthCare for Business – This is another blog that might be interesting for data as well as general information. Although the content is primarily focused on the northern Ohio region, many of the topics they cover have impact throughout the country.
DATIA – Finally, consider joining or tapping into DATIA; the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry of America. As the name implies, this organization is primarily focused on providing education, resources, and advocacy to those involved in drug and alcohol testing as used by employers or in the private sector. While most of their data may not be directly pertinent to treatment outcomes, you may still find valuable information to help you compare your services with the competition or national averages. Because of its involvement with OSHA and DOT, DATIA often posts information that bleeds across the drug testing lines.
The real lesson here is that in order to promote your results, you may have to create a standard or benchmark. If that benchmark doesn’t readily exist, then set about trying to make your own. Nothing says that you cannot improve on your own metric from one year to the next and notify your corporate clients that you are excelling in your occupational medicine provision year to year.
Putting the data to use seems like it should be easy, right? But making sense of what you collected might not be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It may be closer to that ominous light at the end of the tunnel—signaling either daylight or an oncoming train. For many operators, interpreting data is a hair pulling task fraught with frustration, and that can just be looking at patient counts and transit times.
So, what happens when you’re trying to compare things like outcomes and other metrics? Before you run any report, ask yourself a few questions to ensure you get meaningful and actionable data.
Many operators get caught in the reports trap. They run every report available in their system and then go hunting for new ones, never fully understanding what they are reading to begin with. A report is worthless if it doesn’t provide you useful information that you can act on.
When you have a report in front of you, ask yourself:
Getting your OccMed program up and running can be a daunting task. While sales and marketing will be ongoing for the life of the business, monitoring other aspects—including data—are an integral part of the process. To keep your occupational medicine business top notch, you should always be looking for new service lines to offer your existing and prospective clients. Staying informed of new or changing regulations is also key to knowing what is going on in your industry and how it might affect the clients you serve.
From a marketing perspective, being able to compare your services with local competitors or even OccMed service providers on a national scale can help reinforce to your clients that you not only are focused on delivering professional medical care, but also maintaining a level of regulatory compliance that sets your organization apart from other urgent care centers or medical providers.
Collecting data that reinforces how you compare to national norms gives you the ability to show your clients firsthand that you stack up well against the competition.
Finally, collecting and reviewing the proper reports and monitoring the right KPIs, along with defining the right goals for growth, can help your occupational medicine program expand and deliver the exceptional service your clients expect. Instead of spending valuable time running and reviewing countless, useless reports, you can focus on the information that will assist you with making smart sales, marketing, and operational choices.
In 2017, private industry employers in the U.S. reported approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses—that’s three cases for every 100 full-time workers according to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. American companies have a need for expert workplace health services. Urgent care clinics are uniquely qualified to deliver OccMed services because of their commitment to on-demand healthcare, extended hours, quick door-to-door time, and easy accessibility.
For urgent care clinics that add occupational medicine, this can mean access to new customers, a steady stream of patients throughout the entire year, and increased profitability.
If you’re considering jumping into this service line, we hope this eBook will help you from the time you make the decision to offer OccMed services. From choosing a location and choosing staff, to sales and marketing, we’ve covered all the bases.
If you still have questions, we can help guide you on your journey. Our experts and consultants have been there, and are ready to help. Just reach out and contact us online or on the phone.
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