BY BEN EVANS, CEO & CO-FOUNDER, OURHEALTH
It’s no secret that healthcare in America faces difficult challenges. Among the biggest are lack of access for patients, escalating costs for benefit providers, and a tough system to navigate for consumers and health providers.
By 2025, the Centers Medicare and Medicaid Services predicts our country’s spending on healthcare will increase from $3 trillion to more than $5 trillion. The Association of Medical Colleges predicts an even worse scenario: That by 2030 we’ll be more than 100,000 doctors short of need – and that number doesn’t even consider the anticipated shortage of nurses and supporting staff.
When it comes to navigation, even the most basic element of healthcare – the doctor’s appointment – poses a challenge. Between scheduling the appointment, driving to the doctor’s office, filling out paperwork, waiting in the waiting room, and being seen, most patients need to schedule a half-day off work – all for an appointment that may have lasted five minutes or less. And on behalf of the provider, most health systems are pushing for higher and higher visits per hour which means that the doctors and providers can’t spend quality time with their patients. It’s an assembly line that leaves both the doctor and the patient feeling like this isn’t what they signed up for. And they’re right.
The good news is that employers and healthcare providers are actively partnering to answer these challenges. One solution that’s gaining in popularity is employer-sponsored primary care clinics, which can be located on the employer’s campus or nearby. This solution has shown to decrease costs, increase access to care, improve health outcomes, and create a more productive workforce. For more than 40 organizations on Fortune’s 2016 list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For,” an onsite healthcare clinic is a strategic asset to control the rising cost of healthcare and create improved organizational value, including examples such as USAA, Goldman Sachs, CustomInk, and Capital One Financial.
And not only are smart organizations investing in onsite healthcare, they’re increasing that investment. According to a 2015 Towers Watson survey, more than two-thirds of large employers that currently offer onsite healthcare plan to expand them.
Establishing onsite healthcare is a sizable investment – so how will you know investing is the right direction for your organization? Here are a few factors to consider:
NO. 1 – ESTABLISHING ONSITE CARE PROVIDES IMMEDIATE BENEFITS, INCREASED ACCESS
It isn’t unusual for a reputable, in-network doctor to be a 30-minute drive away, especially in large cities. However, for employers with onsite and near-site healthcare clinics, an employee can enjoy the ease of a short walk, or drive, to a trustworthy provider. The clinics provide care, at little or no cost, for a variety of health services that would typically require employees to leave work. Employees often spend at least a half day, if not more, at an off-site medical appointment so providing them convenient clinic access can enhance physical and mental health, as well as reduce lost productivity.
An added benefit of onsite clinics is their ability to effectively deliver healthcare to everyone at an organization, including those who otherwise wouldn’t have a primary care provider. Employees who have chosen a preferred primary care provider can utilize the clinic services as a complement, rather than a replacement to their current provider.
For organizations who don’t have the headcount, budget or physical space to support an onsite clinic, consider a network of near-site clinics that multiple companies share. With near-site clinics, patients receive immediate access since the clinics are typically conveniently located in relation to where employees work and live. These clinics may even flip the script on the mental model of what a clinic looks like with patients enjoying modern furniture and popular Spotify playlists in the background.
NO. 2 – THINK LONG-TERM
Investing in improving your workforce’s health and productivity takes a commitment beyond capital – it takes time. If you’re considering an onsite or near-site healthcare model expect a three- to five-year commitment for best returns. A study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported that a well-designed, convenient health program can have a return on investment of $2–$3 per dollar spent over a two- to nine-year timeframe. Since quality care can keep medical leave down and employee productivity up, this return on investment can benefit your company’s bottom line for years.
Beyond the importance of employee wellbeing, it’s a simple fact that healthier employees are better for an organization’s health insurance budget. Given the prevalence of high deductible health plans, it’s critical employees have the tools to make more thoughtful decisions around how they spend their healthcare dollars.
Preventive services at low- or no-cost close to work can increase the use of wellness programs and encourage better long-term employee health. This lessens the presence of chronic illnesses which require regular checkups, a variety of prescriptions and decreased productivity. These precautionary offerings can boost employee patient health outcomes overall. When employers offer access to onsite and near-site healthcare clinics they build a workforce that is continually healthy which creates impressive “health equity” with returning value year after year.
NO. 3 – INSPIRE A CULTURE OF WELLNESS
Companies need to know if their employee population is at risk for costly medical issues such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. The biggest benefit for onsite and near-site health clinics is undoubtedly peace of mind for employees. It indicates that employers are listening to the concerns of their population, and willing to build a culture where their employee wellness comes first, above all else.
In addition, the onsite healthcare model encourages employers to commit to a full health and wellness programmed approach that includes biometric screenings, incentives, wellness programs like webinars and more. Offering workplace clinics encourage employees to make thoughtful, informed choices in their lifestyle choices.
When employees visit their workplace clinic they can enjoy a 20 – 40 minute appointment, or long if needed, with ample opportunity to speak with the provider regarding any questions they have or discuss health coaching recommendations. In general, employees appreciate the personal attention which is so infrequent in most healthcare appointments.
NO. 4 – INVESTING IN WELLNESS PRODUCES RETURNS ON TALENT
Perhaps a CEO has challenged his or her director of talent to find more key benefits to tout during recruitment or to increase talent retention. As most of us know, successful organizations understand that human talent is at the heart of any strong business. Companies can experience a return on talent for employee productivity when they add an onsite or near-site clinic given a healthy workforce is a productive workforce.
The concept that healthy people are happier, more efficient workers isn’t novel. The first workplace clinics were implemented for industries with high occupational injury rates. In fact, this set the standard for the employer-sponsored clinics which would come later in history. These clinics cared for workers in shipyards and steel mills before World War II.
Onsite and near-site clinics have experienced a resurgence due to the ever-increasing cost of healthcare, which has encouraged employers to reinvent healthcare offerings for employees and provide a wider array of primary care for workers regardless of their industry.
Many organizations struggle with recruiting and retaining strong talent, but luckily incorporating onsite and near-site clinics holds immense value for prospective and current employees. Giving employees access not only to nearby, high-quality healthcare but also wellness programs to incentivize healthy habits, will provide an edge in the recruitment marketplace and make talent attraction and retention easier. Millennials resonate with these types of benefits as they continue seeking revolutionary workplaces.
Discover how an onsite or near-site clinic solution can help your organization gain these advantages with a complementary healthcare ROI analysis today.