In a healthcare setting, "employee health" pertains to
ensuring safety against contagious diseases by verifying up-to-date immunizations and using preventative practices to monitor and improve the health of employees. (1)
Software solutions can be helpful in tracking employee health across departments, and can also benefit organizations by reducing costs. With increased ease of recalling information and reduced risk, even small organizations can save over $100,000 annually by implementing a solution for employee health (2).
Challenges of Improving and Monitoring Employee Health
Even given its importance, managing the various aspects of employee health can be challenging for healthcare organizations to keep track of for several reasons:
1. Difficulty of Managing Employee Records
Trying to track and record data such as immunization history internally might sound simple in theory, but in practice can be quite complicated. In larger organizations with over 1,000 employees, 58% report difficulty and disorganization when trying to manage employee health data and track immunizations or certifications through programs like Excel (3).
2. Off-the-shelf Solutions Lack Customization & Automated Workflows
Off-the-shelf solutions, while they can be cost-effective, often cannot deliver the same results as a customized software solution.
Every healthcare center has unique needs, so when looking for a solution for employee health, organizations should consider a potential partner that will be willing and able to take the time to understand the nuances and complexity of their particular employee health challenges.
Solutions for Improving and Monitoring Employee Health
Fortunately, there are viable solutions to monitoring and improving employee health within any healthcare organization:
1. Adopt Software to Track Employee Health
Tracking the health and safety of employees using programs like Excel leaves room for error and introduces the risk of missing information. By using a software solution with employee health features, there is assurance that all information is recorded without the fear of data loss, human error, or security breaches.
When looking for a software solution for employee health, healthcare organizations should look for features such as automatic workflows that allow supervisors and employees to easily know that they are due for an employee health visit.
Usually, the notification process for employee health management depends on the follow up of one person within the Employee Health department. Choosing a technology provider that allows all team members to be aware when they are due for a visit allows teams to coordinate schedules accordingly, so that employees get access to the care they need when they are due.
2. Ensure Real-time Notification of Employee Safety Incidents
For healthcare teams, maintaining direct lines of communication about events is critical in keeping patients and staff safe. For example, if a nurse sustains a needlestick injury while treating a patient, he/she would need to report that injury and follow the proper treatment protocol.
With an incident reporting software for employee health, the nurse could directly report the event to an occupational health nurse by filling out an electronic form, instead of having to call the Employee Health department or go there in person to report the event. This real-time notification of employee safety events allows the nurse to prioritize his or her time more efficiently, while keeping employee health teams in the know about safety incidents as soon as they happen.
3. Conduct Safety Culture Surveys
Conducting a Safety Culture survey enables healthcare organizations to assess how their staff perceives patient safety culture and measure conditions that can lead to adverse events and patient harm (4). Safety culture surveys can be used to (4):
- Raise staff awareness about patient safety.
- Assess the current status of patient safety culture.
- Identify strengths and areas for patient safety culture improvement.
- Evaluate trends in patient safety culture change over time.
Patient and employee safety often go hand-in-hand, and share organizational safety culture as their foundation. Hazards to healthcare employees because of lapses in infection control, fatigue, or faulty equipment could result in injury or illness not only to employees but also to patients (5).
Therefore, establishing a strong patient safety culture is important to provide error-free care to patients and to improve employee health.
4. Introduce Convenient Health Services for Employees
Though increasing the accessibility of health services for employees might sound like a small gesture, its impact on a workplace goes far. With a main focus on their patients’ health, it is easy to see how a healthcare employee’s concern for their health could come secondary.
By offering employee-centered services such as free immunizations and vaccinations, and by making it convenient for employees to receive care, healthcare organizations can have a positive impact on the wellbeing of their employees, as well as patients (6). For example, employee health departments might consider going directly to healthcare employees to offer influenza vaccinations. Simple tactics like this can go a long way in ensuring success in employee health efforts across an organization.
1- Newkirk, B. (2015, April 14). Employee Health vs. Occupational Health – What's in a Name. Retrieved from https://www.ulehssustainability.com/blog/occupationalhealth/employee-health-vs-occupational-health-whats-in-a-name/#sthash.eQIIZkUu.dpbs
2- Software solutions to save you time and money. Retrieved from https://www.bdc.ca/en/articles-tools/technology/invest-technology/pages/software-solutions-save-you-time-money.aspx.
3- Hospital Employees' Health. (2018, May 11). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/features/hospital-employees-health/index.html.
4- Surveys on Patient Safety Culture Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from https://www.ahrq.gov/sops/about/faq.html#Q1
5- Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Organizational Safety Culture - Linking patient and worker safety. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/healthcarefacilities/safetyculture.html
6- Lynn, R. (2019, November 6). Strategic Planning Software vs. Excel Spreadsheets. Retrieved from https://www.planview.com/resources/articles/strategic-planning-software-vs-excel-spreadsheets/.