Hos­pi­tals boost pop­u­la­tion health by bring­ing care to the work­place

Modern Healthcare - - COMMENT - By Moody Chisholm

As health­care costs con­tinue to rise and af­fect busi­ness profit mar­gins, com­pa­nies are seek­ing so­lu­tions to bet­ter con­trol and man­age health­care costs for their em­ploy­ees.

Some com­pa­nies build on-site clin­ics to help with on-the-job em­ployee health is­sues, de­liv­er­ing health­care that’s more re­ac­tive than pre­ven­tive. Such clin­ics are costly to build and ex­pen­sive to op­er­ate and main­tain.

Our hos­pi­tal sys­tem, St. Vin­cent’s Health­Care, is an in­te­gral part of the Northeast Florida com­mu­nity, an area known for its health­care col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween busi­nesses and hos­pi­tals. We work closely with the com­mu­nity to develop in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions for em­ployer health­care needs.

Rec­og­niz­ing how the health­care-de­liv­ery model in the U.S. is con­stantly evolv­ing, we took the ini­tia­tive to be the first lo­cal provider of on-site work­place med­i­cal clin­ics. In June, we launched our pro­gram, HealthWorks, which al­lows com­pa­nies to of­fer care to their em­ploy­ees at the work­place. A clinic is set up on the com­pany’s cam­pus, ei­ther in a space al­lo­cated within the com­pany’s build­ing or via our mo­bile-clinic bus available through reg­u­lar vis­its.

This cus­tom­iz­a­ble health­care so­lu­tion meets the rou­tine health needs of com­pany em­ploy­ees in a con­ve­nient, cost-ef­fec­tive man­ner. The com­pany pays an hourly rate for our on-site med­i­cal ser­vices and em­ploy­ees do not pay any out-of-pocket costs.

Many com­pany em­ploy­ees do not reg­u­larly have well­ness check­ups or are leery of doc­tors and hos­pi­tals. Our on-site clin­ics pro­vide rou­tine ser­vices such as phys­i­cal ex­ams, di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment for day-to-day ill­nesses, pre­scrip­tions and health screen­ings, as well as one-on-one chronic-care man­age­ment for work­ers with on­go­ing med­i­cal is­sues.

HealthWorks takes tra­di­tional work­site well­ness pro­grams a step fur­ther by pro­vid­ing early de­tec­tion and con- di­tion coach­ing for those em­ploy­ees who need it, con­ve­niently tak­ing place at the em­ployee’s work­site by a health­care pro­fes­sional. The pro­gram and the on-site nurse prac­ti­tion­ers are backed by our health sys­tem, lead­ing to easy and fast fol­low-up and re­fer­rals.

We sup­port com­pa­nies that want em­ploy­ees to take an ac­tive part in mak­ing their lives health­ier, de­vel­op­ing a mind­set of “health main­te­nance, not health re­ac­tion” to de­tect health prob­lems early. In­stead of em­ploy­ees not vis­it­ing doc­tors for reg­u­lar well checks, they can visit the clinic dur­ing their work­day at their work­place.

Em­ploy­ees also get an early di­ag­no­sis and man­age­ment of chronic dis­eases, mean­ing fewer vis­its to the emer­gency room and an over­all bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of their per­sonal health risks. This, in turn, helps the com­pany bet­ter con­trol its health­care costs and keeps em­ploy­ees health­ier, re­duc­ing ab­sen­teeism and in­creas­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity.

Another ben­e­fit is that an on-site clinic al­lows em­ploy­ees to have longer ap­point­ments with the health­care prac­ti­tioner and a greater op­por­tu­nity to un­der­stand each rel­e­vant health risk. Em­ploy­ees es­tab­lish trust­ing re­la­tion­ships with the HealthWorks clin­i­cian that can ul­ti­mately im­prove their life­time health­care ex­pe­ri­ence.

This pro­gram was de­signed as a “cus­tom­iz­a­ble” so­lu­tion that is af­ford- able for a busi­ness. The com­pany can set the hours of op­er­a­tion that are most con­ve­nient, lead­ing to de­creased med­i­cal costs. More im­por­tantly, hav­ing the pro­gram demon­strates to em­ploy­ees that the com­pany is trans­par­ent and cares about their health and over­all well­ness, im­prov­ing em­ployee morale and com­pany sat­is­fac­tion.

The ini­tial re­sults of HealthWorks are en­cour­ag­ing, with more than 120 em­ployee vis­its to the on-site clinic for one lo­cal com­pany. Some em­ployee par­tic­i­pants have been di­ag­nosed with chronic health­care prob­lems, such as di­a­betes or hy­per­ten­sion, and are now re­ceiv­ing the right treat­ment plan and are re­turn­ing for fol­low-up ap­point­ments at the clinic. The com­pany also is con­sid­er­ing of­fer­ing the HealthWorks’ ser­vices to em­ploy­ees’ de­pen­dents for bet­ter pre­ven­tive care.

Other hos­pi­tals and health­care sys­tems could repli­cate this health­care-model de­liv­ery, in which em­ploy­ers pay an hourly rate for staff and cover sup­ply costs of any ser­vices. We do not run ser­vices through em­ploy­ers’ health plan, which pos­i­tively im­pacts uti­liza­tion. As a re­sult, we hope to see re­duced rates at re­newal. In ad­di­tion, the clin­ics do not need to be large—a small con­fer­ence room or of­fice can be retro­fit­ted. If space is available, the nec­es­sary med­i­cal equip­ment, fur­ni­ture and startup sup­plies are as low as $6,000 to $8,000.

We view the on-site clin­ics as a one-stop shop for pop­u­la­tion-health man­age­ment and a vi­tal, proac­tive cen­ter for on­go­ing em­ployee health. It is a po­ten­tial so­lu­tion for com­pa­nies seek­ing to im­prove and man­age the health of its em­ploy­ees while manag­ing the grow­ing costs re­lated to health­care.

Moody Chisholm is pres­i­dent and CEO of St. Vin­cent’s Health­Care in Jack­sonville, Fla.

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