Employers and employees alike are seeing the benefits of taking care of a company’s most valued asset by putting a doctor on-site.
Employers are beginning to care more and more about your health. This is because illness (from sick days to workers compensation) costs the U.S. workforce $576 billion annually. And yet, employees skipping a doctor visit to complete a client presentation or forgoing a chiropractic adjustment to get the kids to school on time is typical in Orange County, according to Annette Walker, president, strategy for Providence St. Joseph Health, and chief executive of St. Joseph Health.
We spend a lot of time working. In fact, many of us spend an average of 8.9 hours working or in work-related activities (and 7.7 hours sleeping), per workday, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s almost 24% of our time (if you count weekends) working — and that’s assuming you don’t work on weekends.
Now employers are becoming more involved with the well-being of their employees—not just because it can reduce sick days but also because it can improve employee morale and help reduce medical spend.
Many employers, especially those who are self-funded (meaning they pay for all insurance expenses out of pocket rather than having an insurance company, although they still use insurance providers for the network of doctors you see) have started building on-site wellness clinics. Imagine that instead of taking two hours out of your day to make a trip to the doctor’s office you could just walk into a clinic, see a chiropractor, pick up your prescription or even see a health coach — without ever leaving the office.
Nationwide, 29 percent of companies with more than 5,000 employees provided work-site clinics in 2015, according to a survey by human resources consulting firm Mercer.
Employers and employees alike benefit from on-site wellness clinics and their main objective of providing better health benefits. This is great news for employees, especially those frustrated by the lack of support they get from their own health plans. We all get the letters in the mail about our portals and health coaching, however the health plan is quite removed from the equation. While employees are trying to figure out this information, employers are stepping up their game to improve five key areas:
1. REDUCING THE COST OF HEALTHCARE
After opening an on-site wellness clinic, many employers see a decrease in their healthcare spend. They can then pass those savings on to the employee. Because they’re also able to directly affect and see improvements in their employees’ health, employers can have higher negotiating power when talking to insurers, which only furthers the cost reduction for both employees and employers.
2. TAKING CARE OF THEIR GREATEST ASSET
No matter the company, the greatest asset is always its employees. Software breaks down, so does hardware. The only asset that can take care of that is human power. When employees’ lives are improved, employers benefit too, from the increased productivity and positive morale.
3. ATTRACTING TALENT
If you are a large employer, adding an on-site wellness clinic can go a long way in attracting talent, especially if the candidate has a family, plans to start a family or has any pre-existing conditions.
4. SAVING TIME
On-site clinics give time back to the employees—time they can spend with their loved ones instead of stressing out about the workday they had to take off to see to their medical needs. Sometimes employers also allow immediate family members to use the clinic’s resources, which can save the whole family time and stress.
5. DELIVERING CARE WHEN IT’S NEEDED THE MOST
We’ve all been there—sick or injured and tired while at work and needing to see a doctor, chiropractor, nutritionist or physical therapist. By offering these services on site to employees, employers create harmony for the employee with as little disruption to their day as possible.
A trend is on the rise
This is a growing trend among organizations and also alongside real estate developments; many new apartment homes are now starting to feature on-site clinics. Why should you need to drive to the doctor’s office when there can be one on-site? And this concept is not just for startups.
Much of this is also being driven by Accountable Care Organizations and insurance providers getting more strict about what they authorize payments for, which drives pay for performance rather than just a fee structure in which patients are seen as transactions.
This will be a trend that continues to grow and it won’t just be the employer coming into the space. You’ll also see health systems, your local pharmacy and even retail developers expand into this, such as Providence’s Express Care clinics in Walgreens. Ultimately this is great for the consumer as everyone is now looking at “whole-person” care and bringing mind, body and spirit together.
All in all, these advancements — while they may seem slow to those outside the space—are great strides toward transforming healthcare and increasing its ability to adapt to new societal norms.
Removing the transaction
Even more interesting — and less talked about — is how these on-site clinics are actually transforming healthcare in ways no one saw coming.
In the traditional healthcare model the doctor gets paid for each visit — and of course a doctor should get paid. However because of this and increases in costs, the doctor has to see more and more patients in order to have a successful business. This is why people commonly joke about how long they spend in the waiting room (it is, after all, a waiting room) compared to how little time the doctor spends with them.
An on-site clinic is not driven by the same economics. The clinic’s doctors and staff members are already fully employed and paid by the employer so there’s no need to bill for a visit. This increases the time a doctor will spend with you— and reduces the time you spend waiting for them.
This is very reminiscent of how care delivery used to be. We’ve all seen movies in which the doctor makes a house call or visits a family. Or we’ve heard stories from grandparents about how they had the same doctor for years.
Both of those scenarios seems to occur less and less these days. However, with the changes employers are making, in addition to government regulation changes, we’ll begin to see a full circle change back to this attention to detail. The result will be doctors who are able to spend more time caring about patients’ needs versus seeing patients as transactions.
Healthcare in a digital world
Digital services are also trending upward. Because employers are bearing the entire cost of healthcare for their employees they can demand better services and offerings for their employees.
While traditional insurers leave it up to the providing network to determine their technology and tools, employers are demanding better tools. These enhancements are welcome changes to those of us who live in a digital world.
Technology can now take us well beyond the basic patient portal, with services like:
- Rewards and incentives
- Care messages delivered to patients
- Health coaching (messages to keep patients motivated)
- Retail services (such as convenient ordering of prescriptions or meal plans)
- Messaging between patients and doctors
- Consumer reported data (such as tracking one’s weight or glucose levels)
And these are just a few of the innovative things we’re seeing coming out of on-site clinics.
But what about privacy?
Usually at this point in a conversation someone will ask me something along the lines of: What about security and privacy?
Most people don’t realize HIPAA isn’t there to stop the data flow but rather to offer a secure and accountable way to transfer your medical records — in fact, it’s in the title: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
We’ll leave the security discussion for another blog post, however I did want to mention a few things about the privacy of data as it relates to on-site clinics:
EMPLOYERS CAN’T VIEW YOUR HEALTH DATA
A major question asked by many employees is: “What if my employer sees something on my medical record that could hurt or jeopardize my job?”
But the answer here is plain and simple: Your employer can’t view your health data.
Employers aren’t—and never will be—able to see your data with your name on it. They can see a “general population” and see data about their employees, however it’s all anonymous.
DOCTORS CAN’T SHARE YOUR INFORMATION WITH YOUR EMPLOYER
Your relationship with your physician is yours and yours only — they are there for you and only for you. Doctors have taken oaths to protect who you are and what is going on with your personal life.
You can rest assured your employer is more worried about them accidentally seeing your data than you are. There are many laws that protect us and employers go to great lengths to protect this info.
Changing the way we deliver healthcare
Healthcare is going through the greatest transformations of any industry since the time of the industrial revolution — OK, maybe it’s not that monumental, but it is quite drastic.
Employers are doing their part to help further these changes by improving the care you receive, and ultimately changing the way it’s delivered.
You can expect more transformations to your healthcare needs and services, including better results and outcomes. The practice of medicine is about to get a lot more personal, and the best part is: it’s all about you.