To promote employee healthcare while also keeping costs down, companies are turning to a near-site employer Network health center model. Located in metro areas around the community, the centers are easily accessible and help employees and their families get healthy.
When LaShaunda Abili discovered her A1c level was in the pre-diabetic range through her annual biometric screening, she knew she had to make a change, and scheduled a visit to her Marathon Health Network Health Center offered through her employer, Mecklenburg County.
“I didn’t want to develop diabetes,” she says. “I met with Family Nurse Practitioner Sabrina McCluskey, who helped me understand the cause. I joined a weight loss program and scheduled follow-up visits to monitor my progress.”
By getting annual physicals employees can proactively manage their health, like LaShaunda. Unfortunately, the number of adults in the United States with access to primary care has decreased over the past decade. And, healthcare spending for chronic health conditions has been on the rise. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 90% of the nation’s $3.8 trillion in annual healthcare expenditures are for people with chronic health conditions.
One of the ways employers can help bring this cost down is by encouraging employees to regularly engage with primary care, and that’s where the employer-sponsored Network health model comes into play.
Employer Network Health Centers Offer Convenience
Network health centers are designed around accessibility by being strategically located in metro areas where employees and their families live, work and shop. Meaning, that an employee can visit a Network health center near their job while their spouse can visit another Network location closer to home.
Giving employees increased accessibility to healthcare encourages regular visits with a primary care team. Making care more convenient prevents employees from delaying or canceling appointments when they have a conflict. Additionally, their dependents covered by their health benefits are more likely to take advantage of care when it’s closer to where they live or are running errands.
Network health centers also feature extended hours, including evenings and weekends, so employees don’t have to worry about taking a day off work to see their practitioner. “Our team will help employees find an appointment time that accommodates their schedule,” says Chad Ashcraft, Executive Vice President of Growth for Marathon Health. “We want to make it easy for a teacher, for example, to come in after school and get a biometric screening. If they do have to reschedule, it won’t take them several weeks to get back in, which can be common at traditional doctor offices because they are often overbooked.”
Network health centers also often offer health coaches, behavioral health specialists and physical therapists so employees have access to a comprehensive healthcare team in one location. Some locations also dispense medications onsite to prevent employees from making an additional trip to the pharmacy. And, members have access to care navigation referral specialists who can help schedule visits to high-quality doctors or specialists around town, or help answer questions regarding healthcare benefits.
The Network model also provides patients with a variety of options when it comes to selecting a provider, along with services, empowering them with more choices.
Types of Services Available at Network Health Centers
- Full scope of preventive care and acute sick care (both in-person and virtual)
- Chronic condition management
- Annual physicals and wellness screens
- Lab services and diagnostic tests
- Medication dispensing (onsite and home delivery)
- Behavioral health counseling (both in-person and virtual)
- Health coaching (both in-person and virtual)
- Care navigation
- Occupational health services
- And more
A Focus on Patient Experience
In the traditional primary care model, employees often feel rushed during an appointment when their practitioner has an office full of patients. “In a traditional primary healthcare setting physicians often see three to four patients in an hour so it’s hard to develop a relationship with the patient and build continuity,” Ashcraft says.
The Network employer health model offers employees longer appointment times averaging 45 minutes. Patients have additional time with their practitioner to discuss any concerns they have regarding their health, which can result in a more comprehensive examination.
LaShaunda says her care team helped to motivate her in her efforts to get healthy. “By understanding food, and how the body transforms some foods into sugar, I was able to lose 30 pounds and lower my A1c. Sabrina empowered me to make realistic health changes and praised my efforts.”
Rather than visit her primary care provider for her annual physical, LaShaunda says she now goes to the Network health center because she likes her care team so much. “I don’t feel like another number,” she says. “I feel like a normal person with important needs. My Marathon Health practitioner cares about me and my overall well-being. They are pleasant, and take the time to listen and have a conversation.”
Creating Better Outcomes Through The Employer Network Health Center Model
When employees regularly engage with a primary healthcare team, they can build stronger relationships with their providers resulting in more discussions about how they can be proactive in managing their health while also identifying issues before they become more serious.
Karen Mueller, CBC, Executive Vice President & Partner for HORAN, says that engagement from employees with chronic health conditions is critical in driving better health outcomes and lowering healthcare costs for everyone. “When employees with chronic conditions can effectively manage their health, it not only improves their quality of life but also helps them save money by avoiding trips to the emergency room and reducing the number of medications they need to take.”
Cost Savings for Employers with Network Health Centers
Employers benefit financially from the Network model by not having to worry about the investment associated with the construction of an onsite center. “Since Marathon Health funds the buildouts and building leases, employers don’t have to worry about taking on those additional costs. This opens the door for employers of medium and small-sized businesses to also have access to these services for their employees.”
Network centers allow employers to share costs without sacrificing the quality of care their members are receiving. Businesses can also save money by utilizing the additional resources provided at the health centers such as behavioral health services and reducing the need of providing those services through supplemental programs.
By focusing on accessibility and sharing costs between employers, Network centers can improve employees’ lives while still providing employers with a cost-effective healthcare solution.