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 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.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!
We’ve split this guide into four parts so you can jump right to the topic most relevant to you:
Understanding OccMed and Related Services
Occupational medicine, sometimes called workplace medicine, is employer-provided healthcare services that promote the health and safety of employees and also protect the financial wellbeing 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’ Compensation Case Management
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 worksite. According to the 2007 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, the top five causes of the most disabling work injuries are:
- Overexertion (Including injuries related to lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying, or throwing)
- Falls on the same level
- Falls to a lower level
- Bodily reaction (Including bending, climbing, reaching, standing, sitting, or slipping without falling)
- Struck by an object
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 visits types related to workers’ compensation:
Fitness for Duty
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.
Independent Medical Exams
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.
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.
Drug Screen Testing and Collection
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.
Annual Employee 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.
The Benefits of Adding OccMed as a Service Line
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 of America (UCAOA) 2015 Benchmarking Report, 90% of clinics offer vaccines, 57% offer urine microscopy, and 46% offer wellness exams. In addition, 97% of clinics reported offering on-site lab services (CLIA waived or higher), and 66% reported providing off-site employer worksite services (excluding flu shot clinics). A 2009 BMC Health Services research study found 92.6% of clinics providing some kind of occupational medicine and 93.3% process some kind of lab tests on site.
OccMed typically includes workers’ compensation and pre-employment screenings for company wellness programs and annual employee check-ups. 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.
Updated OSHA Reporting Requirements
OSHA now requires all work-related injuries and illnesses to be reported through a new database as of January 1, 2017. The new rule requires specific employers to electronically submit injury and illness data that they are already required to record on their on-site OSHA Injury and Illness forms.
Defining an OccMed Program that Works for You
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 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.
Lay the Groundwork for Success with Training and Marketing
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.
Cross Market Your Urgent Care with OccMed
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.
Differentiating Your OccMed Program
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.
- More experienced physicians?
- More convenient locations?
- Better hours?
- Better insurance rates?
- Faster treatment and reporting?
- Broader range of services?
- A stellar reputation?
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 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.
Ready. Set. Launch.
For an excellent program launch, ensure staff are trained and ready to handle all things OccMed, which include:
- Setting clear goals
- Defining and assigning new responsibilities
- Designating or hiring someone to run your OccMed program
- Securing board certifications as required
- Providing sales support resources
- Creating marketing buzz
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.
Final Thoughts on Part 1
Over the last few years, occupational medicine has become one of the best performing supplemental service lines for urgent cares across the country. The following are a few things to keep in mind as you decide if OccMed is a good choice for your urgent care.
Adding OccMed to your services can increase patient flow and revenue—but it’s not for everyone. OccMed is not an all-or-nothing alternative. Be selective about what services you choose to provide. Planning, preparation, and support are essential to long-term success.
Don’t try to take on too many OccMed services at once. Add more or offer fewer services as needed.
Promote services strategically with a focus on your strengths.
Always end presentations to prospective employers with your strongest benefits.
Know your break-even points and how many employers and patients it will take to make your program profitable.
We hope that after reading Part 1 you have a greater understanding of OccMed and how it might be a profitable service line for your urgent care. In Part 2 we will explore the ways you can sell OccMed services to employers in your market.
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.
Researching Prospective Employers
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:
- What are the boundaries of your market and service area?
- How will you segment prospective employers? (size, industry, or need)
- What are their driving factors for OccMed services? (service costs, OSHA recordability reduction, lost employee time reduction, or efficient communication and documentation)
- Who is your competition?
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.
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:
- Small businesses
- Service industries
- National chains
- Large businesses
- Municipalities and government entities
- Finding prospective employers’ pain points
Defining Prospective Employers’ Pain Points
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 appreciate on-site clinics.
Municipalities and Government Entities
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 recordkeeping is essential. Employee health and wellness are motivators for an easy upsell.
Defining Your OccMed Selling Team
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 providers are 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 are 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 Department of Transportation. and OSHA rules and regulations.
Including Providers in Selling
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:
- Add provider contact information, bios (including expertise and certifications), and photos to your website
- Host open houses at your urgent care or provide clinic tours for employers
- Present seminars and invite employers to lunch-and-learn events
- Demonstrate expertise by provider blog posting, sharing OccMed tips, offering helpful references, and giving preventative health advice
- 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:
- Talking to employers about their business, health needs, and potential injury issues
- Explaining OSHA recordability, reducing lost employee time, and managing communication
- Supporting the bidding process for the contract depending on provider level (M.D. vs. mid-level)
- Maintaining OccMed expertise and upselling with advice for employee safety and wellness
Selling OccMed to Prospective Employers
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.
Hit the Streets
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.
Primary Targets – Service Industries and Manufacturing
Employers who will refer workers’ comp injuries and are likely to provide employer-paid services to their employees.
Secondary Targets – National Chains
Employers who will refer workers’ comp injuries and provide employer-paid services, but will take longer in the decision-making process.
Tertiary Targets – White Collar Businesses
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 time savers, 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.
Know Whom to Speak With
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.
How to Handle the Refusal
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 the 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.
Leave-Behind Relevant Information
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:
- Business cards
- OccMed folder or PDF including location map, service listing, fee schedules, form samples, and product/service brochures
- Special offers or promotional materials
Schedule a Follow-up
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 fit 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.
Common Selling Techniques
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, shareable 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.
Clinic Tours and Open Houses
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.
Website and Digital Marketing
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.
Final Thoughts on Part 2
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.
Researching your market to find and target businesses that are the best fit for your services will help you direct your sales effort, saving time, energy, and resources.
- After identifying prospects, learn all you can about them, including their pain points.
- Choose confident team members to present your clinic to prospects.
- Be sure everyone on your staff is invested in and knowledgeable about the OccMed services you provide.
- Rejection happens—and it informs your sales efforts. Learn and move on.
- Leave behind clinic information at every sales call.
- Network and build your reputation in the community with hosted education, open houses, and other service opportunities.
In Part 2 we covered many of the things you’ll need to know to start selling OccMed services to businesses in your market. Part 3 covers some of the daily challenges and opportunities you’ll face when you add OccMed to your urgent care clinic.
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.
Balancing Your OccMed Employers and Patient Care Priorities
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:
- Advising over-the-counter (OTC) medicine rather than writing a prescription
- Ordering non-rigid splints, ace wraps, or other non-rigid designated supplies
- Bandaging versus casting • Using hot or cold therapy • Cleaning, flushing, or soaking wounds
- Removing foreign body from eyes or body by simple means (with cotton tip, tweezer, or irrigation)
- Drilling nails or blisters to relieve pressure or drain fluid
- X-ray as diagnostics
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.
- Giving the employee the remainder of the shift off, which does not result in a recordable lost time incident.
- When determining work restrictions, consider what the employee can still safely perform.
- Negotiate back-to-work tasks, provided it’s safe for the employee. Communication with the company contact person is essential.
- Get to know the companies you serve. See what the work environment is like and what types of jobs and functional requirements are necessary.
- Re-check and re-evaluate employee at regular intervals to decrease restrictions as the employee recovers.
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 Employer Communication
Effective OccMed case management requires close communication with employers and a team effort from everyone on your staff. Here are some simple strategies to support effective communication (especially for workers’ comp) with employers by staff role:
After the first workers’ comp visit:
- Make a short, direct call to identified contact person
- Update on patient findings (ensure HIPAA compliance information only)
- Plan patient re-check
- Coordinate any patient restrictions
Follow-up after worker’s comp re-check:
- Update identified contact person
- Unless there is a change in restrictions, follow initial provider tips
- Pass on patient questions to preferred provider
- Communicate service issues or needs to corporate relations
- After communicating patient arrival:
- Determine protocol needs (if not in EMR)
- Relay protocol information to clinical staff
- Relay any new protocol information to corporate relations
- Complete paperwork notification to employer, as requested
- Follow up with employer-paid service paperwork:
- Notify identified contact person (per protocol of results)
- Coordinate paperwork completion with provider and clinical staff
- Serve as quality assurance
- Coordinate information, complaints, or issues to corporate relations
Managing Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and Contracts
Responding to an RFP?
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.
- Know the timeline and meet or beat the final submission deadline
- Use common key terms your prospective client will understand
- Clarify unknown terms with a glossary or dictionary
- Offer options for services and pricing if allowed
- Insert list of standard fees for efficiency
- Compare and contrast with competition if possible
- Submit the response in the required format, making sure the information you provide is professional and current
- Be sure to include all the benefits you will provide and present your clinic in the best light possible
Signing a contract?
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.
- Establish and lock in pricing for a set period
- Include the length of the contract and renewal terms
- Include details for contract termination
- Outline service levels and expectations
- Outline minimum fees for service and payment structure
- Include employer responsibilities (i.e. employee termination notice, employee function change)
- Include penalties if parties do not meet terms
- Be as clear and concise as possible
- Ask an attorney to review before finalizing the contract
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):
- Have multiple contacts for shifts, departments, and services
- Get all pertinent contact information and specify method of contact
- Clarify needs vs. regulations Incident
- Post-accident vs. reasonable suspicion
List Service Expectations
- Define reporting methods
- Timing of reports
- Pricing for services Review Uploaded Protocols
- Follow up with contacts
- Test protocols before using
- Review on a periodic basis (to ensure information remains accurate)
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.
Employer Follow-up Ideas
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:
- Schedule regular phone calls and site visits
- Evaluate service satisfaction (consider satisfaction surveys, but face-to-face check-ins are generally more productive)
- Look for new service lines to add
- Make unscheduled, friendly calls and send gifts to celebrate their business achievements
- Ensure employers are receiving industry-appropriate information (help educate and be a resource)
- Invite employers to be guests at seminars, webinars, and social events
- Encourage your entire staff to be involved in relationship management
Final Thoughts on Part 3
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.
- Be sure to balance your responsibility to employers with your commitment to patient care.
- Become an expert on OSHA and workplace regulations so you can build trust with clients and the extended business community.
- Clear communication, adherence to processes, and follow-up by every staff member involved in a workers’ comp visit simplify case management.
- RFPs and contracts can be complicated. Be sure you understand the fine print before you sign agreements or contracts.
- Not every employer is a good fit for your OccMed practice. Know when to end these relationships.
Throughout Part 3 we discussed ways to ensure your OccMed practice succeeds. In Part 4 we will discuss long-term marketing and sales strategies to help you grow and thrive.
Earlier 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.
Opening the Doors to New Target Markets
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:
- Food Processing, Prep and Service
- Small Manufacturing
- Logistics – Trucking, Distribution, and Warehousing
- Health and Human Services
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.
Secondary 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.
Tertiary Targets – 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.
How to Connect with Secondary Targets
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 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.
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.
How to Connect with Tertiary Targets
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.
Go the Distance – Expand Your Reach
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:
- Where is the nearest competitor?
- What OccMed services are available in the area?
- What services are needed?
- Can I be competitive on a financial or service front?
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.
Increase Business with Additional Services
When we think of OccMed, the first things that come to mind are Workers’ Comp injury management, pre-employment 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.
- Drug and Alcohol Screening
- Workplace Immunizations: Flu shots, Hep C vaccinations
- DOT Exams
- Surveillance Testing
- Respirator Fit Testing/Training /Evaluation (Quantitative or Qualitative)
- Hearing Conservation Tests
- Vision Testing (Titmus/Snellen/Ishihara Color Blindness Testing)
- Pulmonary Function Test / Spirometry
- Medical Monitoring (for specific job class)
- Baseline Musculoskeletal Exams
- Blood-borne Pathogen Exposure Testing, Management and Training
- Lead Testing
- Fitness for Duty Exams
- Independent Medical Evaluation (IME)
- HAZMAT Exams
- First Aid / CPR Training
- Wellness Support Programs
- Employer Consulting
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.
Ongoing Sales and Upselling
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 on-site 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 follow-up will show that your occupational medicine program is dedicated to providing not only the best in medical care but also first-rate customer service.
Final Thoughts on Part 4
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.
- If your goal is to grow your OccMed program, exhaust all your leads in the primary target category, then move on to those accounts that may be a little more difficult to sell in your secondary and tertiary targets.
- Consider expanding the radius of your target market to reach new businesses.
- As your business grows, consider expanding OccMed services.
- Businesses that are satisfied with your OccMed services are often looking for other ways to expand their workplace health programs—be their go-to choice.
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.
The Choice is Yours
In 2015, private industry employers in the U.S. reported approximately 2.9 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 guide 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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Patrice Pash is DocuTAP’s Director of Consulting Services. With nearly 20 years of experience in the urgent care industry, she has helped more than 150 clinics start-up successfully. Patrice has been a part of the DocuTAP team since 2016.