SwiftMD Telemedicine

Healthcare on Demand

SwiftMD is a telemedicine service that delivers quality health care directly to patients for common conditions. Rather than visiting ER or a doctor’s office, SwiftMD Members enjoy access to high-quality, convenient medical care over the phone or videoconference, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – while saving your organization money.

SwiftMD helps organizations of all sizes:

  • Save money on health care benefits while improving care for members.
  • Effectively manage member health and productivity by reducing unnecessary care and sick leave.
  • Reduce lost work time since members get medical advice, treatment and prescriptions with a single call they can make right from their home or workplace.
  • Avoid unnecessary visits to the ER or costly Urgent Care centers during after-hours and weekends for minor, non-emergent health issues.

At a time when premiums for health insurance are rising dramatically, more and more companies – whether they have 20 covered lives or 5,000 – are turning to innovative options like SwiftMD to retain valuable benefits without breaking the bank.

Benefits that SwiftMD members enjoy include:

  • 24/7/365 nationwide access to U.S. Board-Certified physicians
  • Consults with doctors via phone or videoconference; Doctor makes diagnosis and recommends treatment
  • Doctor calls in prescription when appropriate
  • Members can avoid unnecessary visits to the ER or long waits for an appointment at your doctor’s office.

Cascade Members receive exclusive per-employee pricing for SwiftMD services!

To learn more, contact Curtis Farmer at 503.585.4320 or cfarmer@cascadeemployers.com.




There seems to be some confusion around the question of what is a pay study vs. what is a pay survey. During a time when compensation related issues are extremely challenging, I thought it was a good opportunity to explain the unique elements that make a pay study a study, and a pay survey a survey.

I speak with organizations often that say they need a “pay survey” done when in fact what they really need is a study done to find out the “going rate” for a particular job, or they want their pay practices in general evaluated.

Key components of a pay study

  • Pay studies are evaluations typically based on a formal job description or complete list of the duties/responsibilities/education/experience for a job and evaluated against similar jobs in the market place.
  • Pay studies typically involve researching various available survey sources that may be general in nature or specific to a certain industry. Based on the job description or list of duties/responsibilities, a comparable match is found in the survey sources and is used to evaluate and market price an organization’s job(s).

Pay surveys differ from studies in that they are primarily a “tool” utilized when conducting the actual pay study. In general, a pay survey is used to determine the compensation paid to employees in one or more jobs.

Key components of a pay survey

  • Compensation data is typically collected from several employers and compiled in a report called a pay or salary survey.
  • Survey reports illustrate distribution statistics relative to the respondent data which provides an array of data based on where the 10th percentile through the 90th percentile of the sample may lie. In more general terms, this simply means that pay or salary surveys can be used to find out what the low, average and high pay levels are for a given job based on data from employers who participate in wage surveys.

It’s important to recognize that it may take a true study to utilize the full potential of a pay or salary survey and to formally evaluate job(s) and/or develop a compensation structure.

In a time when organizations are facing many challenges concerning the implication of wage levels on recruitment and retention, as well as compliance with new laws and regulations around compensation, knowing the difference between a pay study and a pay survey is very useful knowledge. Understanding how they differ will help you identify what you may need.




Leading your organization in a competitive environment requires innovation and navigating transition effectively. Some factors you can control — or at least significantly influence — while others you can’t. Involving employees early in preparing for and implementing changes helps prevent failure and regret.

Here are ten specific ways to honor both the past and employees’ feelings so they can move effectively and confidently into the future:

  1. Expected or unexpected? Surprises scare people. Fear creates suspicion, distrust and negative thinking. The more we prepare people for possibilities, the more maturely they handle them. For example, concealing the likelihood of a layoff undermines the spirit of those who go and those who stay.
  2. Clear or vague rationale? Words like “restructuring to be more efficient,” or “getting closer to our customer” sound good, but need to be backed up with what was working, what was not, what will be better and why change is needed now.
  3. Desirable or undesirable? Those who don’t plan the change may be suspicious of management’s claims that everything about it will be great. Leaders need to acknowledge the risks and the undesirable effects at the individual and the organizational level. Doing so improves a leader’s credibility.
  4. Leadership is visibly committed or only talks a good game? Top managers love to say, “People are our most important asset,” but often value technology more than employees. Commitment includes giving recognition to those who support the change and getting involved personally.
  5. Thoroughly or poorly planned? Glitches are inevitable but clumsiness is a sign of questionable competence and an uncaring attitude — two major factors in justifying distrust.
  6. Emerging over time or sudden? If change is built on a foundation of gradual improvement then employees will be less threatened, more able to make adjustments and more confident.
  7. Fully or poorly supported? Management needs to provide ample support and resources to ensure the success of a change initiative. Otherwise, employees may suspect it is not for real or that it is doomed to failure.
  8. Employees have choices or all decisions have been made by management? Even if the input is only on mundane matters, employees feel respected and are more likely to own changes when they are consulted. They don’t require getting their way but want to have their say and have leaders treat their views as important.
  9. Constructive efforts are reinforced or only negative resistance gets attention? Critics offer valuable input, as do fervent supporters. But self-centered saboteurs should be invited to engage – not be coddled.
  10. History of success or failure? Having a track record of being and feeling like winners, overcoming adversity, and sharing an inspiring vision are all powerful drivers toward the next challenge. Start small with experiments, learn from the success and failures of others, and adjust creatively as you go.

Change is challenging. Handling it well is critical to success now and to building a resilient culture that not only survives but thrives.




If it’s been more than a year since you’ve given your employee handbook a thorough read, chances are it’s already out of date.

I don’t know too many people that jump up and down about the prospect of updating their employee handbook (except some people on our staff), but here are a few tips to help get you started.

  1. Have someone not in HR read through your current version and take notes about what doesn’t make sense to them. When I review an employee handbook I always read it through as a new employee would and take these types of notes. What is confusing? What seems unnecessary? What seems inconsistent? This outside lens can be very helpful in identifying things that you may have become blind to because you’re so familiar with the handbook. That’s one of the reasons we always have more than one person review employee handbooks that our team of experts update for companies.
  2. Make a list of policies that you know need updating because of a change in the law. To do this well, make sure you have great resources that keep you updated throughout the year on all of the employment law changes that could impact your handbook policies and practices.
  3. Make a list of policies that you know need updating because they’re inconsistent with your current practices. For example, many attendance policies state that employees must call in and speak with their supervisor if they’re going to be late or absent. However, in today’s world I find that most supervisors allow their employees to text or email rather than call in. Whatever you decide, the practice should be consistent with the policy.
  4. Make a list of policies that you want to change for another reason. This is a bit of a catchall. Some policies are fully compliant and consistent with practices, but you just don’t like how they read. Maybe it is too heavy-handed or too formal for your culture. Make a note to change it.
  5. Throughout the year, make note of any policies that employees or supervisors seem to have confusion about. Some of the more common ones that cause confusion are policies about benefits, time-off and leaves of absence.
  6. Make sure all point of contact references are correct. For example, I worked with a small employer with less than 15 employees on updating their handbook. Several policies referred to the “HR department.” I knew they didn’t have an HR department, so we changed those references to specific positions such as the Office Manager or General Manager.
  7. Now, you should be ready to start making changes. Use the lists you’ve made and dig in.
  8. When you have an updated draft, select a few supervisors to review the new draft to see if there is anything that stands out to them that may need to be revised.
  9. Make any final (almost) changes. Now, you’re almost there. Just one more thing to do.
  10. Before you re-publish your handbook … ALWAYS have your employee handbook legally reviewed by an employment attorney. Not just any attorney will do. You need one with this specialized knowledge. This type of review is one of the most common things we do for employers and it’s incredibly important. Once this step is completed, your handbook should be republished and redistributed to employees. Make sure you get new acknowledgement sheets for everyone.

A few other helpful points:

  1. While there are many sources available for employee handbooks such as models that can be downloaded, or online tools that allow you to develop your own, take caution. Taking a cookie cutter approach can be easy, but it can be dangerous. Every handbook needs to be customized to your specific state, industry, individual practices and company culture. Many online tools don’t account for these things. Trust me, your handbook cannot be fully developed in an hour. Okay – I take that back. You can do it with some online tools, but I’ve yet to review one from a company using an online tool or model that doesn’t need to be customized and revised. Again, this is why #9 above is so important.
  2. If you review and update your handbook on an annual basis, it generally shouldn’t take more than an hour or two. Still do #9 on an annual basis, too.
  3. Remember, if you make a major change to a policy before your annual update, republish that policy at the time and get a new acknowledgement. For example, if your state has recently adopted statutory paid sick leave, update your policy now rather than waiting until the time of year when you do your annual update.

You still may not be jumping for joy when you start the task of updating your employee handbook, but having a process to follow should help make it a little less overwhelming.

Of course if it is still too overwhelming or you don’t have the time, our team can help you out. Feel free to contact me if you want to chat about your handbook.

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