A conversation with Cority’s Senior Solution Engineer, Kathryn Maltchev, on Occupational Health Clinics and the role of technology.
With over 20 years of experience in Occupational Health and Safety, Cority’s Senior Solution Engineer, Kathryn Maltchev, sits down with our Product Marketing Manager, Julianna Giordanella, to discuss:
- Common challenges when running an Occupational Health Clinic.
- How software can support Occupational Health teams with reporting, communication, and compliance.
- Advice on successfully implementing Occupational Health software.
Occupational Health Clinic Challenges
Julianna Giordanella: Could you tell us a little about your role at Cority?
Maltchev: As a Senior Solution Engineer at Cority, I use my background as an Occupational Health Clinician to empower occupational health and safety organizations to efficiently and confidently manage regulatory and patient/employee care requirements. I have managed global safety programs, wellness initiatives, and behavior-focused ergonomics teams in addition to occupational health.
Prior to Cority, my most recent position was as a manager of a large occupational health clinic, with direct oversight of surveillance programs, athletic training and early intervention initiatives, and fit for duty program development and support.
Julianna Giordanella: What were some main challenges/pain points you experienced running an occupational health clinic?
Maltchev: Outside of COVID-19, which presented unparalleled challenges, disparate systems and siloing were often the biggest pain points. Occupational Health is very intertwined with, and even dependent on, many other organizations and departments, such as, Safety/Industrial Hygiene, HR/Recruitment, Operations, Unions/Employee Relations, and more.
Lack of communication or bulky communication makes coordinating efforts challenging and managing data from many different systems and formats makes pulling reports very time consuming. I also experienced increasing requirements and demands with the same or reduced staffing. It’s a struggle many organizations feel with the requirement to do more with less resources.
Julianna Giordanella: What are some ways you overcame those challenges?
Maltchev:I found that if I could bring information from multiple departments together, in one centralized space, we could improve our internal coordination and escalate information for executive visibility quicker. For example, a connection with safety to auto-populate a specific clinical record field or to push information for safety awareness. When managing early intervention programs, I often leveraged shared data sets between health and safety to identify areas of higher risk, set targets related to both safety and health teams, and track associated results. Sharing information between departments ensured we were collectively working toward the same goals. Doing so increased efficiency and effectiveness while strengthening our combined efforts. This also helped distribute work and automate processes, which helped reduce the administrative burden on our staff.
Solving Occupational Health Clinic Challenges with Software
Julianna Giordanella: In your experience, what were some benefits of using occupational health software within the occupational health clinic you managed?
Maltchev: Occupational health is bound by many different guidelines and requirements. Software helps ensure those guidelines are followed and can support better clinical decision-making by providing quick access to medical histories and other important health data. Furthermore, appointment self-scheduling and employee self-support capabilities, such as pre-appointment completion of paperwork, attaching documents, and accessing medical records, all help optimize clinic resources and reduce wait times.
In one of the healthcare settings I worked, we saw major administrative time savings and a reduction in transcription errors since the software system empowered employees to manage their own documentation with a self-service portal. In addition to that, automation of specific activities, such as leader and safety notifications when a new injury is seen in the clinic helped save time and increase efficiency.
I’m a big advocate of keeping supervisors in the loop and connected with what is happening with their employees as much as possible. However, supervisors are incredibly busy so having a system that allows multiple methods of communication and easily accessible on-demand reports was extremely beneficial. I have found that the more supervisors are engaged and knowledgeable about compliance requirements, restrictions, and overall employee wellbeing within their organizations, the more attentive they are in supporting occupational health and safety efforts. Everything gets driven from the top down.
Julianna Giordanella: How can occupational health software support efforts in adhering to internal or external regulations and reporting requirements?
Maltchev: Occupational health programs are required to meet many country and region-specific requirements. The software system helps organizations ensure they’re meeting internal standards for record-keeping and compliance with all regulations, including those related to storage of personal medical information and record retention. Interfaces that link to other systems, such as state vaccination registries, and forms that auto populate with captured data help reduce duplicate reporting and risk of transcription error.
As a clinic manager, having access to audit trails is crucial while reviewing patient record access and allows managers to see what changes were made and by whom. This helps ensure security but also supports internal review and coaching opportunities if clinical audits reveal potential gaps.
EMRs vs Occupational Health Software? Check out our whitepaper, Employee and Occupational Health Recordkeeping Systems: How They’re Different from an EMR and Why You Need One
Julianna Giordanella: How can software help managers monitor the success of health campaigns at clinics?
Maltchev: Software provides real-time data on participation and engagement rates of employees in campaigns and programs. This helps managers gauge the level of interest and involvement among their workforce. Additionally, software enables teams to monitor individual health and physical outcomes over time. Evaluation of qualitative and quantitative data can be used to trend perceived and recorded benefits of interventions to fine-tune strategies for future initiatives.
Julianna Giordanella: How can data or reporting capabilities help occupational health teams when presenting program effectiveness or communicating with stakeholders?
Maltchev: In my experience, data and reporting capabilities play a pivotal role in presenting the effectiveness of health programs. During presentations, I often pulled detailed reports to present via visual dashboards to illustrate trends and improvements over time.
Flexible reporting capabilities also allow for higher visibility of program data. Real-time data for information, such as vaccination rates, exposure monitoring, case distributions, compliance and injury/illness trending, are critical to meet urgent stakeholder needs that may come up unexpectedly.
Julianna Giordanella: How does software contribute to maintaining accurate health records and ensuring privacy and confidentiality?
Maltchev: Research has shown that confidentiality is a top concern patients have in regard to the collection of health-related data and is central to health record management. Software provides a centralized repository for health records for all employees and keeps it separate and distinct from other employee records. Role-based access control further ensures that only authorized personnel can access specific health records to further maintain confidentiality.
Looking to invest in OH Software? Download the Occupational Health Software Buyer’s Guide by Independent Research Firm, Verdantix.
Obtaining Buy-In for Occupational Health Software
Julianna Giordanella: What advice would you give to someone who is considering occupational health software and needs to obtain buy-in from their executives/leadership to get funding?
Maltchev: Given the current climate, including the tightening of resources and an increase in regulatory requirements, I have several thoughts on gaining support and funding.
- First, understand the bottom line. Create a value proposition by completing a full return on investment. This might include the benefits of consolidating systems, reducing fines and penalties, reducing paper and printing costs, and increasing efficiencies.
- Next, think through how the solution further impacts current organizational objectives. For example, address the company goal to improve employee satisfaction and reduce turnover by reporting the effects of workload reduction through automation (several studies are available). Combine this with any data you collect to show how this would be achieved through the use of occupational health software. This might include values of automating communication, reducing paperwork/reporting time, and improving employee engagement in health and safety programs. Now more than ever, employees value an organization’s commitment to employee wellbeing.
- Additionally, it’s helpful to present a solution capable of meeting requirements beyond your current need. Highlight the flexibility and scalability of the software to allow for quick adaptation to a rapidly changing environment. This has become critical in all aspects of business, but particularly in the ever-evolving health and safety space.
- And finally, tell a story. At the end of the day, behind all the data and metrics are people who are driving the business. Every clinic has compelling stories of the people they serve and the impacts of care provided. Software enables clinicians to spend less time on the required administrative work, so they have more time to provide care. These personal interactions drive what we do and give us a mission and a purpose. Executives are people too, and they carry a huge responsibility for everyone reporting to them. The stories of employees are often what they need to hear the most.
Now more than ever, employees are demanding healthier workplaces and businesses are understanding the link between healthy employees, overall productivity, and long-term profits. With this evolution in how we view employee health and well-being, companies are having to rethink their occupational health programs.
To learn more about key trends emerging across the occupational health space and how technology and software solutions can meet the evolving needs of the workforce, read our eBook, Tackling Emerging Occupational Health Challenges With Technology.