Making a case for the expanding role of occupational health services
The escalating cost of employee healthcare is something we take both professionally and personally. As health plan premiums rise, so do our deductibles and co-pays. And statistically speaking, the more healthcare costs, the less likely we are to use it. The result? Just 15 percent of employees — the sickest ones — account for more than 90 percent of healthcare spending, not to mention the toll they take on productivity. It’s no wonder employers are the ones leading the charge to find more effective ways to get employees healthy and help them stay that way.
An alternative we’re seeing is companies transitioning onsite employee health clinics from their historic role in occupational health and compliance to expanded roles as centers for employee health and wellness — on the job and outside it.
More services + more patients = higher return
Borrowing from the best concepts in population health management, including accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical home models, employers are not only consolidating preventive and urgent care under the corporate umbrella, but they’re inviting employees’ families to find a spot underneath.
In a workforce.com article, Becky Shepherd writes, “Many of today's onsite clinics have expanded their scope to address the longer-term effects that chronic illnesses and poor health have on employee productivity and healthcare costs. This focus on keeping employees well includes preventive care and disease management care for chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Recognizing that caring for ill spouses and children can also tax an employee's time, many companies open their clinics to family members.”
Patti Friedman, a senior consultant at Towers Watson’s agrees. "Treating covered dependents can provide as much value to an organization as treating an employee. In fact, when evaluating the expected costs and savings of implementing an onsite health center, more use tends to translate into higher returns."
And let’s not pass up an opportunity to let Harvard weigh in. They published a study showing for every dollar invested in wellness programs, large companies got back $3.27 in reduced healthcare costs, and $2.73 in costs connected to absenteeism.
The business case for expanding employee healthcare services is evident, but the technology infrastructure required to support it hasn’t been as easy to find. Relying on last-generation “safety first” systems, employers are bogged down developing a complex series of workarounds to manage demands for HIT integration and data exchange.
It’s a ridiculous waste, and it’s unnecessary. Our Enterprise Health solution was designed, developed, and built to support today’s employee health management model with a single web-based system that includes health surveillance, primary care, a full suite of occupational health and safety applications, and employee engagement tools. The system integrates seamlessly with medical devices, labs and external providers to consolidate information from across the care community, at onsite clinics and outside them.