A board-certified occupational medicine physician, Dr. Melissa Tonn is the president and chief medical officer of the Dallas-based OccMD Group, P.A. In addition to her role managing employee occupational-injury and wellness programs for Dallas-area employers opting out of worker’s compensation, Dr. Melissa Tonn serves as a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Population Health (DPH) at the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School.
Striving to improve the health and well-being of residents of Central Texas and advocate for population health issues, DPH maintains multiple programs to help fulfill its mission. One of these involves researching and implementing new models of value-based primary care. These new models of care emphasize treating people in the communities where they live, prioritizing communication with patients, and eliminating barriers to maintaining good health.
DPH also works with other partners to improve Central Texas’ health-information infrastructure to enhance the ability of clinicians and other staff to access and use health-related information to better inform decision-making. A third DPH program supports occupational health by partnering with area employers on the development of their employee-wellness and disease-prevention and management efforts.
Based in Dallas, occupational medicine manager Dr. Melissa Tonn serves as the president and chief medical officer of OccMD Group, P.A. In addition to helping US employers develop employee wellness programs, Dr. Melissa Tonn has extensive experience in disability management.
There are many types of disability benefits programs, with both short- and long-term disability insurance being the most frequently used. Short-term disability (STD) insurance replaces all or some of an employee’s income, typically between 60 and 75 percent, when a temporary disability arises. To deter abuse of the program and encourage the use of paid time off for short absences, most STD programs have a waiting period, such as one week, before benefits start. The median length of time US employees use short-term disability coverage is 26 weeks, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Long-term disability (LTD) insurance is often offered as continued form of income replacement after STD insurance runs out. Some LTD programs pay benefits to individuals with permanent disabilities until they reach retirement age or become eligible for Social Security disability benefits, while others have an expiration period of around 24 or 36 months. Approximately 72 percent of employers offer LTD insurance to their employees, and most pay the full premium for the plan.
A Dallas-based occupational medicine physician who consults with companies on their occupational health programs, Melissa Tonn serves as the president and chief medical officer of OccMD Group, P.A. As part of her work as a Dallas-based medical benefits manager, Melissa Tonn has an interest in studying the impact of social determinants on health.
Non-medical factors, known as social determinants, can have a large impact on people’s health outcomes. For instance, socio-economic status, race, and the environments in which people live, learn, and work have a significant influence on their ability to maintain health. As more policymakers realize that addressing social determinants of health can lead to both improved health outcomes and long-term cost savings, they are adapting some health plans to cover non-medical benefits and starting to move toward a more comprehensive care model.
Currently, nearly 95 percent of healthcare expenditures fund direct medical care, rather than comprehensive programs focused on mitigating the negative impacts of social determinants of health. Researchers estimate that an individual’s social and physical environment make up about 20 percent of their overall health picture, with behavior accounting for another 40-50 percent. Given that health care delivery only impacts health during injury or illness, more attention must be given to the social determinants that impact health on a daily and long-term basis.
After completing occupational medicine residencies at the Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Health Science Center, Melissa Tonn assumed the role of president and chief medical officer of OccMD Group, P.A., in Dallas. In addition to overseeing occupational injury medical management for employers who opt out of Workers’ Compensation, Melissa Tonn serves as an advisory board member for the New Friends New Life organization.
New Friends New Life seeks to empower survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation while building a movement to stop the abuse. In the Dallas area alone, the illegal sex trade takes in $99 million annually, according to Department of Justice data. New Friends New Life takes the stance that the pornography industry is a gateway to sexual trafficking and exploitation. Since data shows that most pornography is viewed during the daytime, part of the organization’s strategy is building alliances with employers to reduce employees' pornography consumption at work.
To this end, New Friends New Life established an advocacy group focused on reducing men’s pornography consumption called the No Harm Network. The initiative asks businesses to protect women and girls from sex trafficking and exploitation by adopting and enforcing specific policies in the workplace. These policies include controls to deter employees from visiting pornographic websites while working as well as rejecting business expense reimbursement for adult entertainment, such as visiting a strip club. New Friends New Life believes these proactive measures help reduce the demand for sexual exploitation and trafficking of teen girls and women.
The president and chief medical officer of OccMD Group, P.A., in Dallas, Texas, Melissa Tonn is board-certified in occupational medicine. The author of many medical publications, Dallas-based occupational medicine manager Melissa Tonn works with companies on disability management and the development of optimal employee health and wellness programs.
Companies can take several steps that will lead to improved employee health in the long-term. Employee wellness programs should promote physical activity and self-care through daily movement breaks and even daily short walks outside. Breaking up the sedentary time spent at a computer can not only improve focus, but also reduce the occurrence of muscular and skeletal disorders. Another idea might be to incorporate a work-out or physical fitness room into the office, where employees can go to stretch, work on tight areas with foam rollers, or even take a brief pause from their desk to do yoga or lift weights.
In addition to encouraging physical activity, companies should also provide good nutrition options to their staff. Instead of donuts or pastries at the conference table, consider ordering from a service that delivers fresh fruit, salads, or other healthy options. Also, make sure to stock the vending machine or snack room with foods like nuts and fruit, rather than cookies and chips, to help employees make healthier choices on a daily basis.
A Dallas-based occupational medicine physician, Dr. Melissa Tonn consults with companies on their occupational health programs as the president and chief medical officer of OccMD Group, P.A. Also a fellow of the International Academy of Independent Medical Evaluators, Dallas-based medical benefits manager Dr. Melissa Tonn has an interest in studying how social determinants impact health.
While many people think of health mainly as a current physical condition, a person’s overall health is influenced by a variety of factors in their environment, which are mostly out of their immediate control. Social determinants of health are conditions that contribute to either positive or negative health outcomes for an individual or community.
Examples of social determinants are the extent of someone’s social support network and their level of access to quality education and healthcare. Other social determinants impacting health are a person’s working and living conditions and the availability of community infrastructure to support health and safety. In addition to increasing funding for education and health programs, community leaders can improve public health by also addressing infrastructure needs like safe and reliable transportation, neighborhood security, and convenient access to healthy food and outdoor recreation opportunities.
A distinguished Dallas-area occupational medicine physician and healthcare executive, Melissa Tonn, MD, serves as the president and chief medical officer of OccMD Group, P.A. In addition to her professional work, Dr. Melissa Tonn devotes time and effort to improving conditions for the less fortunate, including by donating to Christ’s Family Clinic in Dallas.
For 16 years, Christ’s Family Clinic (CFC) has provided critical healthcare services to uninsured people of all backgrounds who have nowhere else to go. While many charity clinics only offer urgent care, CFC emphasizes comprehensive, preventive care and ongoing support for chronic ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiac conditions.
CFC strives to provide a safety net for Dallas’ working poor who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance. Even with the Affordable Care Act, more than 30 million people still lack health insurance, including one in four Texans. Without any federal or state funding, the clinic relies solely on donations to serve those who fall into the insurance gap. Find out more at https://christsfamilyclinic.org.
Board certified in occupational medicine and the author of many medical publications, Dr. Melissa Tonn is the president and chief medical officer of OccMD Group, P.A., in Dallas. Active in the Dallas community and professional associations, Dr. Melissa Tonn has an interest in studying the social determinants of health.
Various personal, economic, and environmental conditions impact health and well being, and sometimes lead to disease. Researchers recognize that these social determinants not only impact overall health, but also a person's likelihood of injury and subsequent recovery prospects.
People living with negative social determinants, such as exposure to dangerous workplaces, neighborhoods, or schools, are more likely to sustain injuries from falls, fires, burns, vehicle collisions, and domestic or community violence, according to healthypeople.gov, a website run by the federal Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
Certain community programs can reduce injury rates related to environmental or social determinants. For instance, municipalities can better design their traffic flow to reduce pedestrian, bicyclist, and traffic-related injuries. Efforts like home modifications, prescription reviews, and vision screenings can reduce fall injuries among senior citizens. In addition, investments in job training, education, and affordable housing initiatives are key to reducing crime and violence-related injuries.
The president and chief medical officer of OccMD Group, P.A., in Dallas, Texas, Melissa Tonn is board-certified in occupational medicine and has authored many medical publications. An active member of professional associations, Melissa Tonn is a diplomate with the American Academy of Pain Management.
In order to effectively combat the opioid epidemic, physicians must help patients address the pervasive effects chronic pain has on their lives. One strategy that has proven successful is self-management training, which educates patients about specific activities, behaviors, and other tactics they can use to minimize the debilitating effects of pain in their daily lives. Although self-management training led by certified trainers is an integral part of care for diabetic patients, the strategy is just starting to be used to support patients with chronic pain.
Chronic pain patients can benefit from acquiring self-management strategies that include self-monitoring compliance with medical treatment and medication regimens, goal-setting, learning to pace their physical activity and cope with the emotional toll of chronic pain, and practicing positive self-reinforcement.
As the chief medical officer and president of OccMD Group P.A. in Dallas, Melissa D. Tonn, MD, oversees a variety of medical services, including occupational-injury management for organizations that have elected to provide an alternative benefit program for work injuries/illnesses. In addition to her role at OccMD, Melissa D. Tonn, MD, is a member of the District 2 Review Committee of the Texas Medical Board and the past vice chair of the Texas Woman’s University (TWU) Board of Regents.
The Frontiers Program: Foster Care Alumni at TWU operates with the goal of increasing the graduation rate among students who have spent time in the foster-care system. Throughout the United States, graduation rates for these students at higher-education institutions hover between 1 and 9 percent. Today, the graduation rate at TWU ranks higher than those at comparable institutions around the country, thanks largely in part to the varied services maintained by the Frontiers Program.
Services include in-depth financial support and guidance and are available to current and prospective students. To learn more about Frontiers Program opportunities, visit www.twu.edu.
An experienced physician, Melissa D. Tonn, MD, specializes in musculoskeletal disorders, workers’ compensation and disability cases, and chronic regional pain syndrome.