Effective occupational healthcare and the utilisation of data in work ability management

The long-lasting success story of Finnish occupational healthcare promotes the health and wellbeing of the working-age population. Employees’ ability to work and the significance of maintaining this ability increase as the wealth and wellbeing of society increase. However, demonstrating the effectiveness of various occupational health services and other wellbeing services is challenging if there is no data.


The broad spectrum of occupational healthcare


The current discussion regarding the status of occupational healthcare in connection with the health and social services reform is diverse. Generally, occupational healthcare is seen as something fixed – people either have access to occupational health services or they do not, depending on the person’s employment status. However, this general statement is misleading, as the content and extent of occupational health services vary a lot between companies. Even the term “statutory occupational healthcare” has different meanings at different workplaces depending on their predisposing factors and employees’ needs. Thus, a shipyard worker and somebody working in IT will have completely different perspectives on statutory occupational healthcare. This means that there is reason to reflect on how to obtain useful additional services and expand the basic occupational healthcare. From the employer’s perspective, occupational healthcare must always take care of the employees and be part of creating a positive employer image.


Effectiveness or a competitive advantage?


The effectiveness of occupational healthcare is increasingly important. Should the content of occupational healthcare be expanded on the basis of data so that we can maximise its impact, or should we see it more as a personnel benefit and even a competitive factor when acquiring work force? Employers can see extensive occupational healthcare as a competitive factor or an additional cost, much like the exercise and culture benefit. However, occupational healthcare and related health services are often evaluated in a more critical manner than other personnel benefits.


The meaning of effective occupational healthcare is emphasised especially when the economy slows down. As a company reviews its expenses and operations, the management of the ability to work and investments in wellbeing at work are also reviewed. This makes it extremely important that occupational healthcare and insurance companies together support the employer’s decision-making with the right kind of data.


It is essential that employers understand what investments in the maintenance of the ability to work are trying to achieve: is the purpose to create a positive employer image or achieve effectiveness?


Identifying and taking care of risk factors supports the ability to work


With the health and social services reform, the role of occupational healthcare is also changing. A traditional review of occupational diseases or a work-induced weakening ability to work is essential, but not decisive. Almost as important is the section in the Finnish Occupational Health Care Act that obliges the employer to be aware of employees’ ability to work.


Broadly speaking, all common diseases and factors impacting health will also impact the ability to work. For example, a weaker ability to work caused by cardiovascular diseases and diabetes will create costs for the employer if the ability to work is fully lost. Thus, a smart employer is aware of the key risk factors impacting its employees and offers help as early as possible. On the other hand, well-timed healthcare is also extremely important.


The importance of well-timed healthcare is examined in a study of the care of myocardial infarction patients. According to the study, 40% of patients with an infarction will have a reinfarction or pass away within five years of the infarction. Only approximately 10% of patients with a myocardial infarction have therapeutic control of cholesterol. Therapeutic control of cholesterol is one of the key factors in preventing reinfarction, and up to 30–50% of reinfarctions could be prevented with the right care.


Cardiovascular diseases are one of the main reasons people end up on disability pension, so the impact on the employer’s expenses is substantial. Similar examples exist for, among other things, diabetes and weight management, not to mention mental care.


Invest correctly in wellbeing at work and occupational healthcare


Data-based decision-making is the key to effective occupational healthcare that benefits both the employer and the employees. A competent occupational healthcare partner will help your company adjust its investments in wellbeing at work and occupational healthcare.


How is your company reviewing its personnel investments in the current economic situation?


Lasse Parvinen, Pihlajalinna Director of Development


The article references a study of myocardial infarction patients from 2022. The entire study can be read in English here


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