Didn't get into annual report? Create your own

Take credit for savings

When it comes to the most important things done by occupational health in a given fiscal year, you don't want to leave anything out. Why not create an annual report for your department?

"Do this just as you would for any end-of-the-year report," says Patricia B. Strasser, PhD, RN, COHN-S/CM, FAAOHN, principal of Partners in BusinessHealth Solutions in Toledo, OH. "Structure it the same way. Use all of your business savvy to highlight your accomplishments."

Use as much quantitative and qualitative data as you can collect as evidence of the value of the occupational health service. "Examples of annual reports can be found on the Internet," says Strasser. "Use one as a model, if it seems appropriate for your purpose." She recommends including this information:

• Your annual goals and objectives, and whether they were met.

• The number of visits to your department, broken down into categories (surveillance exams, audiograms, injury care, etc.).

• Workers' compensation cost savings, decreases in days away from work, and other objective data that you can gather.

• If you held a health fair or other events such as wellness programs, include a count of the number of people who participated.

Tell workers' stories

Combining these numbers with appropriate powerful anecdotes is especially effective. "If you conducted screening for cancer, hypertension, diabetes, or other diseases and found even one person who was diagnosed early with a condition, include this type of information," says Strasser. "Or if by early case management, you saved an employee from being off work, tell that story."

Try to demonstrate cost savings for as many activities as possible, using benchmark data for comparison if it is available. "Include lots of good graphics and charts to emphasize what you accomplished during the year," says Strasser.

Describe employee satisfaction with the services they receive from occupational health, by developing short simple surveys with four or five questions. "Open-ended questions can be included in the survey, to ask for program improvement suggestions," says Strasser. "Leave space for employee comments. Include some of the qualitative data from the surveys in your report."

Do careful planning

Needless to say, none of this will be possible if you don't take the time to carefully document activities throughout the year. It's critical to track all of your activity, keeping careful data and documentation for all of your efforts.

"It all comes down to planning," says Strasser. "Tracking what you do is much easier with electronic record keeping, but it can be completed by manual tracking."

When doing case management for example, a lot of your efforts may be spent on phone calls. "Track that time, because those calls are linked to the value you bring to the company through case management," says Strasser. "Don't wait until people are looking at the head count, asking, 'Why are we paying an occupational health nurse or physician?' Showcase the value of the occupational health service in a proactive manner that will get management's attention."

SOURCE

For more information on creating an annual report, contact:

• Patricia B. Strasser, PhD, RN, COHN-S/CM, FAAOHN, Partners in BusinessHealth Solutions, Inc, Toledo, OH. Phone: (419) 882-0342. Fax: (419) 843-2623. E-mail: pbsinc@prodigy.net