Occupational Medicine: How Companies Can Cut Costs and Help Employees Avoid Wait Times

Urgent care centers can treat a wide variety of problems that employers may need to address with their workforce—from sprains and back injuries to broken bones—much faster than an ER or a regular doctor’s office.

Companies are responsible for the health and wellness of their employees while they are at work. This means that if an employee is injured on the job, the enterprise is required to help them receive care for that injury. Additionally, businesses need to make sure their employees can physically preform the tasks the job requires, such as heavy lifting, repetitive motion, and constant bending over. Occupational medicine focuses on the prevention and treatment of work-related illnesses and injuries.

Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room

When an occupational health expert is needed, employees often are taken to the emergency room. However, if the worker does not have a life-threatening issue, the ER staff is likely to make them wait hours to be seen, or simply tell them to leave. If employees are injured on the job, businesses should consider taking staff to an urgent care clinic, where a doctor can treat the employees quickly and efficiently, ensuring their safe return to work.

Urgent care centers can treat a wide variety of problems that employers may need to address with their workforce—from sprains and back injuries to broken bones—much faster than an ER or a regular doctor’s office. ERs have excessively long wait times compared to urgent care centers. According to Dignity Health, the average wait time to be seen at an ER is about 90 minutes, whereas the average wait time in an urgent care center is approximately 15 minutes. Urgent care centers also have schedules that are much more convenient than trying to get an appointment with a primary care physician. And unlike minute clinics, urgent care centers have an on-site lab, X-ray, and electrocardiogram (EKG), so patients can receive immediate, high-quality care and accurate diagnoses.

Urgent Care Occupational Health Services

A common employer need is preliminary drug tests for new hires. The more time it takes to get minor tests and treatments done, the longer the hiring process takes. Employers may think the ER can do a quick and simple drug test, but it often doesn’t handle screenings unless there is an immediate medical need to do so. Urgent care centers can conduct drug tests in 15 minutes and can have results available shortly after.

Some employers also require new hires to have an updated physical on file. Urgent care centers offer 10-minute physicals. To cut down the short wait time even further, employees can call ahead to schedule an appointment and be in and out before their lunch break is over. Companies want potential hires to start work as soon as possible, so by working with an urgent care center, they can get fast tests results so individuals can start work in no time. They also handle all these needs at a fraction of the time and cost compared to ERs and primary care physicians.

Injuries on the Job

When employees are injured at work, they need to be treated right away, and the enterprise needs a quick and affordable way to give them that care. If an employee goes to the emergency room and is lucky enough to see a doctor, the medical costs can be astronomical. Companies are required to pay for medical costs when an employee is injured on the job, so keeping costs down while ensuring high-quality care is key. Urgent care centers specialize in treating mild to moderate injuries, such as pulled muscles and fractures that are common in certain industries. Construction and manufacturing, for example, both have high injury rates. Urgent care centers also can handle X-rays on-site to ensure patients are taken care of as quickly as possible. Urgent care centers not only treat employees, but also work with them to create a comprehensive care program that will get individuals back on their feet and back to work as soon as possible.

Get In and Out with Urgent Care

Urgent care clinics are the most convenient place to take care of all occupational medicine needs. They are fast, easy to work with, and conveniently located. Their staff is highly trained and focused on quality and efficiency. Patients can walk in and be seen much more quickly than they would at a primary care physician’s office or in an emergency room. Urgent care clinics also cover a wide range of services, from blood work and broken bones to sprains and back injuries. With on-site labs and X-rays, most tests have a quick turnaround for results. Extended evening and weekend hours also help employees get treated and back to work in no time. Other options can take much longer and cost employers too much; companies that want to reduce time and expenses should consider working with urgent care centers for their occupational medical needs.

Dr. Jack Cornwell is the medical director of CareWell Urgent Care, which is leading the health-care industry with its occupational medicine division that works with patients and their employers to help reduce the cost of high-quality health care by providing innovative, cost-effective, and time-efficient health-care options to area businesses.