Healthcare at Work
With more than 156 million Americans depending on employer-sponsored health coverage every year, employers have the ability to take an active role in employee healthcare. Leader’s Edge spoke with two experts at Marathon Health, which offers onsite, near-site, hybrid and virtual health centers for employer groups, about how to choose a healthcare partner that will be responsible for offering employees primary care services.
Beckham:Employers who desire to provide healthcare services that improves health outcomes and keeps spending under control often find it a task that’s far easier said than done. By partnering with the right vendor, employers ensure they are giving their employees high-quality care and saving money.
Vargo:Employees spend about one third of their life at work, so it’s important that employers find a healthcare solution that employees will use and appreciate. By offering primary care through a trusted clinical partner, you’re breaking down healthcare barriers by making it easy to access and more affordable, and ultimately improving lives.
Vargo: For employers, the very first step should be an internal review of their expectations and objectives of an employee healthcare partner. It really helps to create a cross-functional committee to align on a vision, set common goals, prioritize those goals, and figure out the investment the employer wants to make.
Beckham: It most definitely shouldn’t just be an HR benefit meeting. It will require collaboration from across the organization, including HR, finance, legal and front-line leaders. Everyone really does have to buy in to the vision, and when that happens, it’s pretty special.
Beckham: Exactly. There are a handful of employer health companies with 15+ years of experience, but not all are created equal. The list gets even longer if you throw in the local health systems that may provide something similar. So it’s difficult to select the correct vendor, and sometimes employers will select the wrong one for them. It’s very much a long-term play and not a quick win.
Plus, there are going to be bumps in the road from time to time, no matter who you select, so pick someone that you trust to work with collaboratively. Because, at the end of the day, it comes down to being able to develop a relationship with the care teams who will treat your employees. Much like in a mentor-mentee relationship, there must be a good cultural fit with your population.
Vargo: Employers have multiple options when it comes to offering healthcare to employees, such as onsite health centers where employees work; shared near-site employer network health centers located in metro areas where employees live, work and shop; virtual care; or a combination of these models.
In many cases, employers cover the buildout costs for an onsite health center, but the vendor can and should provide expertise on overall design considerations. This is to ensure high medical standards and patient privacy.
For shared near-site employer network locations, buildout costs should be covered entirely by the vendor.
No matter what options you choose, they should all offer the same advantages. Healthcare should be easily accessible for your employees; it should address health equity by offering high-quality healthcare for every employee, regardless of where they live; and it should remove cost barriers so that it’s free or low-cost for employees.
Beckham: Yes, absolutely. From an engagement standpoint, the ability to see how the health center is performing and how your employees are engaging with it over time is critical. During the vendor evaluation process, employers should ask to see sample reports and find out how often these details will be shared.
Employers should also ask about performance guarantees—how will they measure the overall success of the patient experience, the care team experience, health outcomes and financial savings. The employer and vendor must partner together to see success.
Vargo: It’s another important aspect to consider, especially when it comes to the ownership of medical records. Often, for primary care, the patient can have access to medical records at any time, but the provider has an obligation to maintain the records.
Beckham: Additionally, employers should ask if patient data is shared with health information exchanges. This ensures that the employer health center receives quick updates on an employee’s external care—such as visits to a specialist or the ER or an inpatient admission—and allows for proper continuation of care, as well as reducing gaps in care.