Mobile healthcare is coming to you

In addition to dental and optical care, onsite companies also provide physiotherapy, reflexology, mental health services, massage, blow-dry bars, barbers and beauticians

Onsite dentists can deliver the same services as an offsite practice such as general check-ups, cleaning, whitening and fitting of gum shields. Photograph: Fred Tanneau/AFP/Getty Images

Onsite dentists can deliver the same services as an offsite practice such as general check-ups, cleaning, whitening and fitting of gum shields. Photograph: Fred Tanneau/AFP/Getty Images

 

When is the last time you visited the dentist for a check up? Or had a routine eye test? While many of us would like to make these appointments a priority, they only become reality in an emergency situation such as toothache. It’s all down to time. Regular office hours don’t allow for such maintenance and can often eat into valuable holiday time. Now, thankfully, this could become a thing of the past – technology has progressed and it’s bringing these services to you, most likely just along the corridor from your office.

“We are the first B2B optical company so rather than us trying to find individual public patients, we are going to companies and we are dealing with them directly and then by default we are giving our service to the employees, but the company is who we liaise with to get that contract.”

Don Stack is owner of Optical Rooms. Having started out with a handful of optical stores in the Cork and Kerry area, Stack came to the realisation that he could cut down his overheads by taking his business into other companies in more of a mobile capacity.

Although Optical Rooms have full-time practices in some of the larger companies, much of their work is done using temporary areas, which means that the equipment they use has to be entirely mobile but without reducing quality of service, Stack explains,

“We’ve invested in mobile type equipment that’s transportable. We’ve brought the standard on site way up from what it was. It was really just a check-up or a screening but we can measure intraocular pressure, we are able to measure contact lenses. We’ve brought the standard way up and it’s almost identical to what you can get in the high street.”

The American multinationals are the biggest embracers at the moment of the health and wellness in work, from our experience.

“We have three different scenarios; we’ve full time onsite, we’ve regular part time onsite for companies with 50-2,000 staff that wouldn’t have enough staff to have a full time practice, so we would visit them monthly and it allows us to give continuity of service. Employees could come back for various follow-ups and check-ups. The last one is where companies will say we just want you to come in, do this service as a one off, we’ll take you when we want you.”

With the addition of an online store and off-site clinics, in Dublin and Galway, Optical Rooms certainly have all bases covered and the proof of their convenience to their customers means it hasn’t been a struggle to get clients on board.

“The American multinationals are the biggest embracers at the moment of the health and wellness in work, from our experience.

Business has built up very strongly over the past three years, particularly as the economy has improved and companies have more disposable spend for these type of services and then the trend has increased and they see the merits of these services.”

Another company making big progress in the corporate onsite services industry is Dental Tech Group. Starting out as a denture-making firm, the company expanded into dental services in nursing homes to provide more convenience to their clients, it’s this business model that led them to also set foot into the corporate market, providing dental check-ups and oral health care within companies.

Managing director Bevin Mahon explains the reasons why employees avail of their onsite service:

“Simple things like oral cancer screening, checking the mouth, checking the gums and then also checking to see if teeth cleaning needs to be done, it’s one of the basic routine things that need to be done every six months but it definitely gets missed when people are busy in work.”

As with the optical service the advances in mobile equipment means that most onsite dentists can deliver the same services as an offsite practice such as general check-ups, cleaning, whitening and fitting of gum shields.

“We also do orthodontics on site, teeth straightening, that is one of the things that people are really keen for but the time factor, you are talking a half a day if you have to leave work and go and have one of your dental appointments for teeth straightening, whereas we can do it on site for less than an hour. Most appointments will come in at 30-40 minutes.”

Health and wellness in the work place has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years and we probably have the influence of the American multinationals, who are famed for their work-life balance strategies, to thank for it. They have opened a space in the corporate market for companies to meet their demands and one such company is Spectrum Health.

In the past six months they have launched Pop Up Health, which mainly focuses on dental and optical services, so have partnered with Optical Rooms and Dental Tech Group to provide these services, as commercial director Stephen Costello explains:

“We take all the hard work out of the companies, so we organise the operations behind it; we organise marketing, we organise the booking link so people go on and book easily and then employees turn up on the day and they have the health service that they booked for.

Employers love it because it’s providing an efficient and convenient service for their employees, it’s very accessible and in many cases there is no direct cost to the employer or the employee, so it’s a win-win from both cases.

In addition to dental and optical we also provide onsite, we have physiotherapy, mental health services and we provide massage, blow dry bars, barbers and beauticians and we have reflexology.”

Depending on PRSI contributions, employees may be entitled to a free oral examination and a free optical examination, so there is no reason for employees not to avail of these facilities during working hours.

“Employers love it because it’s providing an efficient and convenient service for their employees, it’s very accessible and in many cases there is no direct cost to the employer or the employee, so it’s a win-win from both cases.

In Microsoft, for example, it’s four days per month for each service. It’s a very popular service especially the PRSI element of it; employees love that and they find it very convenient. Most find it a surprise, they don’t realise it is an entitlement that they have, so there is a great feel-good factor to them getting something for free.”

Another slice of the onsite services pie goes to Onsite Services who’s chief executive Joshua Perry says that it has its advantages on the workplace further than just convenience.

“The other thing I think that’s really important , thankfully in Ireland the economy is doing well and there are more companies coming and it means that there is more competition for valued team mates, so this is a way to attract and retain valued employees, it’s something that gives them more time.

The companies want their employees to be in tip-top shape both mentally and physically so when they get to work they can be the best they can be with their fellow team mates.”

It’s all about time and thanks to these new innovative ideas that allow these services to come to us in our work place, it leaves us employees more time to do much more pleasant things with our time off. I never liked going to the dentist anyway.

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