What are occupational medicine portals?
Occupational medicine focuses on employee health and wellness. Occupational medicine portals are a hub of specialty workflows and content geared towards occupational medicine. They include a suite of self-service tools tailored to occupational clinics, employers, and employees/patients. An occupational medicine portal can be further divided into patient portals, employer portals, and physician portals. Each portal is unique in the type of advantages and functionality it provides to the user.
How portals help the occupational medicine clinic
Employees worldwide have the right to a safe working environment, which is why, in 1994, The World Health Organization (WHO) introduced the Global Strategy on occupational medicine[¹], and in 2006 WHO presented the Declaration on Workers Health[²]. Employers are required to implement occupational medicine and safety standards in the workplace; failure to do so can result in costly employee compensation. In 2018, it was estimated that employers paid in excess of $1 billion[³] per week for employees’ compensation for injuries that resulted in disability in 2015. Occupational medicine is severely neglected when it comes to health IT vendors, despite the fact that this specialty greatly benefits occupational medicine portals.
There are multiple regulatory bodies related to occupational medicine, such as the Department of Transportation (DOT), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Strict policies and documentation are required to appease these authorities, and any portal/software solution needs to adhere to the regulations set by these organizations.
When managing occupational medicine Records (OHR), occupational medicine providers must appropriately account for the following considerations:
- The regulatory body in charge of the OHR.
- When and how to apply applicable regulations?
- Who owns the OHR (the employer, employee, or provider)?
- What information can be shared when and with whom?
OSHA requires that occupational medicine records remain independent and distinct from the general health record; therefore, electronic occupational medicine records should include role-based access frameworks. In keeping with this regulation, occupational medicine portals should manage and separate differing health record systems with varying access, use, and disclosure rules as needed. Under specific circumstances, occupational medicine records may crossover into the general health record (e.g., immunization records). Occupational medicine providers often serve multiple simultaneous clients such as employers, employees/patients, and healthcare providers. As previously stated, different types of client records must be separated from one another. One method to manage occupational medicine records is to implement differing portals. Occupational medicine portals help separate health records from one another and help maintain applicable access and regulations for each record.
If a healthcare provider performs occupational medicine services at the employer’s place of work, all records are kept by the employer. The healthcare professional does not maintain Protected Health Information (PHI) or occupational medicine records. The HIPAA privacy rule does not apply to employers; therefore, these records are maintained per OSHA rules. While the employer owns the OHR, the employee has appropriate rights to access and use or disclose the information within their OHR.
An employer portal provides employers with a means to keep track of their employees’ medical records, especially work-related health problems. Implementing an employer portal can reduce risks to employee health as employers can fully understand what risks are involved with their line of work and control them. Employer portals also aid in compliance with strict regulatory policies and maintaining employees’ health and safety, ensuring injuries at the workplace are well managed.
Patient portals allow patients/employees access to their occupational medicine record and/or their electronic health records. Patient portals benefit employees in multiple ways, including improving patient outcomes by promoting communication between providers and patients. Patients can also access patient education regarding best safety practices and certain diagnoses, mitigate unnecessary risks, and improve overall health.
The most commonly used features within a patient portal:
- Patient forms software
- Bidirectional patient messaging between employers/providers/patients
- Online medical record/results
- DOT card
- Care plans
- Personalized patient education
If a healthcare provider renders occupational medicine services at a clinic site, the healthcare provider owns the record and is subject to HIPAA and all other regulations governing patient health records. Health records are created and maintained as PHI. A HIPAA compliant physician portal allows healthcare providers to share information with patients and employers in a HIPAA compliant manner. This data could also be sent via an HL7 interface or Application Programming Interface (API) from the provider’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) to the employer/patient/provider portal solution. Copies of the health record containing PHI are provided to the employer only upon the patient’s authorization. The employer maintains OHR as part of the employee’s human resource employee health records.
Occupational medicine is necessary for all places of work. Failure to implement occupational medicine places employees’ health at risk and can result in legal trouble for the employer. There are multiple rules and regulations when it comes to conducting occupational medicine. Implementing occupational medicine portals, including employer portals, patient portals, and physician portals, makes managing occupational medicine records, according to those regulations, much more straightforward. Most mainstream EHR vendors fail to provide clients with true occupational medicine solutions.
If you’re looking for an Occupational Health EHR or portal for your business, we suggest considering PrognoCIS®. PrognoCIS® Software is a complete HealthCare IT solution that offers occupational medicine EHR. PrognoCIS® also provides patient portals, physician portals, and employer portals to aid in occupational medicine and governing regulations.
DISCLAIMER: All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Bridge Patient Portal is not affiliated, endorsed, or sponsored in any way by the service providers mentioned in this article.
- WHO. (n.d.). WHO | Global strategy on occupational medicine for all: The way to health at work. [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/occupational_health/globstrategy/en/
- World Health Organization Declaration on Workers Health. (2006). [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/occupational_health/Declarwh.pdf [Accessed 8 Dec. 2020].
- www.osha.gov. (n.d.). Business Case for Safety and Health – Overview | Occupational Safety and Health Administration. [online] Available at: https://www.osha.gov/businesscase [Accessed 8 Dec. 2020].