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Hospital provides one-stop shop for industry
Occupational medicine can be a good source of income for your rehabilitation program, as well as a continuing source of referrals for your hospital's medical and ancillary services. That's why the rehabilitation department at St. Francis Hospital in Greenville, SC, set up a new division, business health services, which provides more than traditional occupational rehab services.
Employers pay for the preventive and health screening services. Workers' compensation pays for everything else, says Bill Munley, MHSA, CRA, administrator of rehabilitation and the Vitality Center. In South Carolina, workers' compensation is reimbursed at 87.5% of full charges, which makes it a lucrative business, he adds.
Cindy Kress, MS, director Business Health Services, agrees. "The market is tight," she says. "Each individual service is not really lucrative, but if you provide high quality services and have a high volume, you can do pretty well."
In addition to traditional work hardening, preventive, wellness, and health promotion services, St. Francis provides on-site physical examinations, drug screening, nursing services, and physician services at about 100 Greenville work sites, including several large manufacturing facilities. The rehab department recently hired a physician for its occupational medicine clinic who will treat injuries from the onset.
Many of the services St. Francis provides are not considered traditional rehab services. "But if you can get one piece of it, you can pull in the rest of it. Because of our wellness programs, we got a lot of requests for other services and saw the potential to create a full occupational medicine product line," Kress says.
For many years, the St. Francis Vitality Center, the rehab center's wellness and fitness component, has provided services for business, including health fairs, nutrition classes, and cholesterol education.
"Over the years, businesses were not willing to put a lot of resources into providing those services, but they were more interested in preventive services as they related to the occupational medicine side," she says.
For instance, state and federal regulations require pre-placement physicals, hearing tests, vision screening, and pulmonary function tests as they relate to work environments. The regulations also require workers to be monitored over time.
"Employers were asking us for those types of services because we were already providing health promotion activities. We decided to move toward a one-stop shop for businesses. We wanted to be someone who could provide all the wellness and occupational medicine services," she says.
St. Francis already provided most of the services employers wanted, but the pieces were scattered. Early this year, the hospital decided to put all the services under one umbrella, business health services.
"We're creating a clinic, staffed by our physicians, at one of our hospitals that will take acute injuries from employers. With the other pieces, we have a full continuum of care of work-related services," Kress says.
Having a one-stop shop for all the health needs of an employer can create other business as well. For instance, drug screens don't bring in big money, but if you take care of screening a company's employees, its decision makers call on you for more services, she explains.
"It rounds out the overall continuum. We all are looking at moving to community-based health care. We can't see a way to access more of the community than in employer groups. If you're working with them, you are having an effect on the overall health of the community," she says.
Many employers are moving toward total disability management and will cover the injury whether the employee got hurt on the job or at home. "However they were injured, they still need to return to work as quickly as possible," Kress says.
[For more information on St. Francis' business health services, contact Cindy Kress at (864) 255-1864.]