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Providing Pathways for Worker Wellbeing: The Rise of Virtual Adoption for Occupational Health

Healthcare experts say that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital health and virtual care forward by at least three years. Up from 14% in 2019, a recent Gallup survey showed 34% of Americans now say they have used telemedicine. 46% say they are likely to use it in the future. That is almost 3 times greater than 6 months ago. Due to this increased adoption, healthcare organizations have put a new focus on improving in areas of digital health, specifically in terms of virtual health, remote monitoring, and healthcare technology.

While virtual occupational health continues to grow in adoption, the care delivery method’s full potential has yet to be realized to improve workplace health. Let’s look at where virtual occupational health stands today:

  • Telephonic: Lacks face-to-face capability
  • Video: Exists but not in a consolidated platform
  • Hybrid: Most providers are using a combination approach

The first step to meeting worker needs is understanding that when employees have convenient access to occupational health in the workplace – whether through a physical wellness center or virtual access – it is often the first place they will go for support. Engaging with employees through a platform that is convenient and increases access will enhance your ability to support COVID-19 testing and screening, chronic disease management and monitoring, and employee mental health.

While occupational health is not a service that will ever be delivered entirely virtually, there are many components of an integrated musculoskeletal occupational health solution that can go beyond in-person care to embrace a hybrid digital and physical model. With digital access to care, members can receive virtual musculoskeletal assessments, exercise routines and strengthening, early symptom intervention and injury prevention programs, and more.

Embrace Innovative Applications of Care

The first step towards a more powerful, integrated solution is embracing all of the innovative applications that are available. COVID-19 changed the virtual space, and over the past year, many methods of occupational health have been adapted to the virtual environment. The lack of face-to-face virtual care is a challenge for occupational health nurses and organizations need to meet this need head on and address the issue. Technology has adapted to the new environment, organizations need to adapt as well.

Utilizing New Technology to Improve Health Outcomes

Occupational health teams often find themselves working in a silo. Employers need to recognize that for some patients, occupational health may be the only care they are receiving. To improve access to care for all employees, organizations must fully embrace available new technology to meet members where they are, whether that is through secure messaging, a phone call, in-person care, or virtual engagement.

Additionally, organizations need to look at the full picture of their benefits structure and equip providers with the knowledge to direct employees to the correct resources. What mental health resources are available? What benefits does your EAP offer? How can your occupational health team partner with other lines of service to refer members for specialized care?

Virtual Occupational Health in Action

Imagine a worker at a nuclear power plant who has been diagnosed with diabetes. Due to the nature of his work, his health does not only concern him, but is a public safety concern as well. Taking a proactive approach to care, his occupational health team recommends a continuous blood glucose monitor so that they can keep track of his condition while he’s on the job. This virtual monitoring technology allows the employee to safely continue work at the plant without putting anybody at risk.

The Premise Health Approach

At Premise Health, we offer a variety of virtual care options to meet your unique occupational health needs.

  • National Virtual Health is an on-demand solution that delivers members and dependents access to Premise’s dedicated virtual care providers in all 50 states, 24/7, 365 days a year.
  • Local Virtual Health allows Premise members to see their onsite providers virtually during their center’s normal hours. This care is delivered by wellness center staff and available to members who have access to a physical onsite or nearsite occupational health or wellness center.
  • Satellite Virtual is an alternative solution used by Premise Health that allows us to provide access to small or remote populations and enhance access. Satellite virtual visits combine virtual care from a Premise provider with in-person support from registered nurses or medical assistants at the satellite site.

Interested in learning more about our virtual occupational health services? Contact us today.

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