It wasn’t long ago that the major plague ailing organizations across the United States wasn’t the Covid-19 pandemic but rather year-over-year double digit percent increases in overall healthcare costs. The elimination or reduction in the prevalence of HMOs, advances in medical technologies, emergence of blockbuster pharmaceuticals and other factors contributed to higher healthcare costs across the nation.
Additionally, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provided much needed healthcare coverage to individuals who previously had no coverage, increasing demand for primary healthcare services. In many communities, this increase in demand led to tightening of access to primary healthcare providers compromising early detection and management of chronic conditions and disease.
The dramatic increase in healthcare costs coupled with the tightening access to quality healthcare providers created a perfect storm inspiring many employers to invest in their own healthcare delivery systems in the form of workplace healthcare clinics.
Innovative employers envisioned that by investing in their own workplace healthcare clinic, they could potentially reduce costs for themselves and their employees, improve access to quality care for their employees, and, if done right, improve the wellbeing and health outcomes of their employees. However, a vision without a plan is just a dream. All innovative solutions require strong convictions, discipline, and a steadfast commitment from leadership and this is particularly true for workplace healthcare clinics.
For employers outside of the healthcare industry itself, persuading your CFO and other executive leadership to invest in delivery of healthcare via a workplace healthcare clinic may seem like a daunting task. Stay focused. Expect and embrace resistance along the way. Partnering with a strong and trusted consultant and/or service provider is vitally important to success. Skilled consultants and service providers can help you to analyze your claims data and custom design the workplace healthcare clinic offerings in alignment with your key business objectives and the specific healthcare needs of your workforce.
"All innovative solutions require strong convictions, discipline, and a steadfast commitment from leadership and this is particularly true for workplace healthcare clinics"
A key to success is to be clear and concise with the goals and objectives for the workplace healthcare clinic. Avoid overpromising to your executive team and employees alike. To win over your executives, clearly define the current condition using baseline data sets and propose challenging yet attainable targets as to reasonable return-on-investment and set forth detailed plans as to how success will be achieved. To win over your employees, avoid the temptation to try and please all people. Focus on appealing to the targeted population for which improving access to quality care will generate the envisioned results.
Your investment in a workplace healthcare clinic will take time to grow and mature. Continuously measuring results will be key to help you to stay disciplined and can also signal when you may need to consider a pivot. Identify the key quantifiable and qualitative metrics that help define where you are now and where you want to be. Track, monitor, and review results on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. The metrics will vary from organization to organization based on your specific business objectives. However, a few key universal metrics you might consider monitoring include total healthcare costs as a percentage of overall labor costs, comparing overall claims costs, hospitalization rates, and condition-related quality metrics (e.g.annual HbA1c test completion rate for diabetics, age and gender-based cancer screenings, etc.) of patients using the workplace healthcare clinic against non-users.
Another way to remain disciplined to the plan is to showcase the inspirational stories that are sure to emerge along your journey. Honor the patient with a strong family history of alcoholism who is now celebrating his sobriety and attributes saving his life and his marriage to the care he received at your workplace clinic. Share the story of the employee who was able to get off numerous medications saving her hundreds of dollars per year after engaging in a weight management program. Celebrate with the night shift employee who with a prescribed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program for her insomnia was finally able to adopt healthy sleep habits to resolve her chronic fatigue and improve her quality of life.
Recognize that to invest in the delivery of workplace healthcare is to invest in your employees themselves. Leadership should maintain a steadfast commitment to continuously enhancing the patient experience within the workplace clinic, managing health more efficiently and effectively and improving population health and wellbeing. Be sure to negotiate performance guarantees, including patient satisfaction survey results, with your clinic provider. Demand your service providers to provide the highest possible customer service to your employees (their patients). Most importantly, be consistent in the messaging of all aspects of your business by fostering a culture of wellbeing and health in the workplace as well as within the workplace clinic.
Seek to remove barriers that keep your employees from transitioning their care to the workplace healthcare clinic. Make sure the hours of operation are convenient for your shift workers. Work to eliminate long wait times upon arrival for care. Consider adding telehealth or e-health options where appropriate. Seek also to remove the barriers that keep your workplace clinic from performing optimally by eliminating or upgrading outdated systems, procedures or thought leadership.
With strong convictions, discipline and steadfast commitment, workplace clinics can be a game-changer in reducing healthcare costs for employers and employees and improving employees’ access to quality healthcare. Successful workplace clinics can also greatly increase the employment value proposition for your current and future employees and serve as a strategic tool to accomplishing your organization’s business goals and objectives.