March 26, 2017
Employers have found that striking the right balance to cover workers with a comprehensive benefit plan is no easy task. There are so many variables to consider – demographics, health risks, existing healthcare availability – when making this important decision. It’s why every plan is different.

One benefit growing in popularity is an onsite health center that utilizes population health management, which is designed to improve employee health and lower plan costs. As this trend is increasing amongst employers and showing to provide increased employee engagement while decreasing spending, it is imperative for HR executives to understand the steps to identifying if an onsite health center is the right solution for their organization’s needs. At Marathon Health, we like to have potential customers consider asking the following questions. 
  1. What are your Organizations’ Current Costs? This is the first step when considering an investment in onsite health and is largely used as a baseline. Current costs usually include plan performance, metrics on disability, absenteeism, and employee retention. The cost of an onsite health center typically includes a one-time implementation fee and either an annual or per-member-per-month operation fee. In their proposal, onsite vendors should be able to show a positive return on investment with the assumptions that went into the calculation, including the predicted level of usage. 
  2. Is there a Culture of Trust and Employee Engagement? Organizations in which employees feel valued and heard establish an environment of trust and engagement where onsite health benefits will be received positively. It begins with strong senior management buy-in and support that displays long-term interest in the health of your employees and their families. Additionally, employers of choice also tend to have established internal communication channels for promoting these services and benefits. 
  3. What Medical Services are needed? We have realized there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to providing services. A lot depends on the size and demographic of your eligible population. For example, an employer in the trucking industry might consider a model with additional occupational health services such as DOT physicals, whereas a white-collar technology firm may focus on primary care and health coaching. A general rule of thumb is organizations with more than 1,000 employees can usually justify through cost analysis a full-time staffing model, and organizations with smaller employee groups might consider a part-time or shared-services model to scale their investment. Onsite primary care in geographic areas where it is otherwise difficult to access is particularly valuable, and true population health management (rather than just acute care) is where the investment really pays off. 
  4. Is your Organization Self-insured and Looking for Ways to Stabilize the Upward Trend of Medical Cost? Self-insured companies with employee populations that have a high prevalence of known risk factors such as obesity, hypertension or high stress are especially well-positioned to reap the benefits of onsite health, as are populations with aging workers. An onsite health center can have a significant impact on an employer’s medical claims by reducing the usage of urgent care and specialist visits, as well as by discovering and treating undiagnosed conditions. Beyond averting future claims, redirecting acute and preventive care to an onsite provider means those costs become more predictable for the employer.
Other questions employers should ask when contemplating an onsite health center include:
  • Does your organization already have a health strategy in place? 
  • What are your organization’s goals? 
  • Where do employees work? 
  • Can your organization make an investment in health? 
Onsite health centers are an ideal solution, but they are not for everyone. It is crucial that all executives take into consideration the above questions to aid in determining if an onsite health center—and which type—is best to improve the health of all employees.

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