Sheetz, a family-owned convenience store chain based in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and founded in 1952, continues to reinvent themselves by bringing innovation to their industry. They credit their success to employees whose health is critical to running a 24/7/365 business. After examining the health challenges of their employees, Sheetz looked into an onsite employee health center as a way to offer convenient healthcare to eligible employees and their families.
Marathon Health’s mission to help employees make meaningful health changes resonated with the company that focuses on family values.
Sheetz, which has over 24,000 eligible employees in six states, previously relied on telephonic outreach from their medical provider to address specific chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, but they weren’t satisfied with the low engagement rates. They felt it was difficult to reach employees at home with a phone call from an insurance company, which can come across as impersonal to some who simply didn’t take the call. Sheetz knew that getting a handle on helping employees manage chronic conditions would be key in helping control rising healthcare costs.
“We looked at eight or nine onsite healthcare vendors nationally,” says Travis (TJ) Eckels, Sheetz Senior Manager of Employee Benefits and Wellness. “Marathon felt different than the others. They all have solid metrics and plans, but Marathon Health just felt a lot like us – they had a great internal culture which we knew would resonate when trying to engage our employees.”
“Regardless of who we spoke with at Marathon Health, they all understood that they’re delivering personal interaction and they are ultimately helping people make meaningful lifestyle changes to improve their health,” Eckels says. Today, Sheetz has expanded to three health center locations in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, named the Shwellness Centers to carry through Sheetz branding. While all benefit-eligible employees are able to use the health center, approximately 3,000 employees and spouses have onsite access.
Sheetz built their first health center in 2012 which has expanded to 17,000 square feet. It includes a fitness center and the health center where eligible employees and family members have access to nurse practitioners, physician assistants, a health coach, registered dietician, exercise physiologist, mental well-being counselors and physical therapists.
Increasing Employee Health Center Engagement
After investing in an onsite health center, Sheetz knew employee engagement was key. “To engage employees, we had to understand what [our employees] were dealing with,” Eckels says. “They were struggling with diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol issues. They have stress, like everyone else, which can sometimes go unchecked. They needed a more convenient way to enter the healthcare system. Our goal… [is] to provide them with information on their current health state, help them manage any chronic conditions and help coordinate care in the local healthcare system through PCPs, specialists and appropriate care.”
To date, over 60% of eligible employees with high-risk conditions or chronic conditions are actively engaged with the health center. Of Sheetz’s moderate-risk patients, 68% are engaged. When comparing employees who utilize the health center to those who don’t, the company paid 19.8% less for the engaged employees’ self-insured claims this past year. Also, this population achieves higher preventive screening rates across all categories including colorectal, mammograms, PAP tests and annual physicals.
Bill Young, Sheetz Director of Total Rewards and Risk Management credits employee engagement to several factors. “Sheetz allows employees to stay on the clock when utilizing health center services,” he says. “We also encourage our managers to promote clinic use.”
Alongside promoting the use of the health center during working hours, Young credits the care team’s relationship with employees for high engagement. “If you asked our employees if the care team was employed directly by Sheetz, they would say ‘yes.’ Our Shwellness Clinicians participate in company activities, attend meetings and celebrate wins alongside the rest of the company.”
Shortly after opening the Shwellness Center, one dedicated clinician recognized drivers’ reluctance to utilize health services. To establish good communication and truly understand the stress and physicality of the drivers’ jobs, the clinician volunteered to ride along during a long shift.
“The drivers were concerned that visiting the health center would uncover conditions that would keep them off the road,” Eckels says. “Now the message is, ‘People have conditions, and we will uncover things, but our goal is to keep you on the road safely.’ Drivers are now one of our most engaged departments.”
Sheetz built their first Marathon Health center in 2012 and has added two more health centers in other locations
Engagement for employees who are high-risk or have chronic health conditions
Reduction in claims costs for engaged employees