Time Management in Occupational Health
Check the typical appointment timing in the chart below for managers and occupational health professionals; the chart includes time allocated for questionnaires and administration time.
Remember that OH professionals need time at the beginning and the end of the day for setting up the room for the clinic which includes calibration of equipment and preparing the notes.
At the end of the session time is also needed for packing up and I always include a 10 minute time space to discuss serious or recurrent issues with management.
I have not added an appointment timing for site visits as this can vary depending on the health issue arising and nature of the work. Plus there will be research involved in checking legislation facts, best practice and writing the report.
Watch Out For…
Two areas where time is lost in appointment timing are:
1. DNA’s (Did not Attend)
Here, the appointment timing is strictly set out but no one arrives for their appointment because management have either not told the worker or cannot release them from their work. This can be quite nice for the OH professional (catch up, have a cup of tea) in the short-term but as the contract nears its end or there is a huge back log of health surveillance – no one remembers the reasons, only that the business may be in breach of health surveillance regulations.
Managers start looking at the cost of the OH service and rightly question how this has happened.
If there are a lot of DNA’s – inform management immediately and consider ways of improving attendance for health checking.
Here are some:
Publish department figures of DNA’s, divide a cost to each to show how resources are wasted
Put a responsible person (First Aider, Supervisor) in charge of chasing the person when they are late
Regularly report to a senior manager on how the targets for health surveillance and health checks are spot on or lagging
Cross department charges for non-attendance, this suggests that departments have to pay the charge of non-attendance out of their own budget
Include health surveillance and health checking numbers against plan as part of the performance management programme (appraisal)
- Use a tannoy or texting system on the day to remind workers
Call a review of contract meeting/OH objectives plan with senior managers/health and safety
- Raise the matter at the site health and safety review meetings
2. Review Appointments
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Occupational health is not the NHS service. Only check a health condition if necessary, if possible ask HR/Managers to review the work or rehabilitation programme and be responsible for monitoring work performance. Refer back to occupational health if things are not going to plan.
Reviews are necessary in some cases but be really clear on why it’s needed. Otherwise reviews take up a lot of a clinical day and really mess with health surveillance and management referrals, not a good use of professional appointment timings.
Use Your Time Wisely
Occupational health is a confidential health service provided by management, it is an added cost and one that needs to fulfil promises to both the business and to individuals. Use your time on site to your best advantage and make sure that you publish successes as well as problems with appointment timings.[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]