From -- Kim Hegeman

PCConstruction.jpgConstruction contractors want to have healthy employees on the job. But with a demanding schedule like construction, it can be hard for construction workers to visit a health care provider regularly or when they are sick. PC Construction is solving this problem by bringing the health care to the construction site with workplace health services.

PC Construction has partnered with Marathon Health, LLC. Marathon Health provides onsite health centers that enable employers to optimize the health of their workforce and business.

Marathon Health CEO Jerry Ford knows just how important it is for construction workers to manage their health. “Whether it’s a sprained ankle, back pain or something more serious, they need to have convenient access to quality care,” he says. “Construction workers also need to take care of themselves on a more basic level. Providing convenient access to preventative care and health coaching helps them do it.”

Getting started

PC Construction and Marathon Health have been offering workplace health services to PC Construction employees since 2007. PC Construction’s group insurance broker Hickok & Boardman encouraged the company to partner with Marathon Health for a health and wellness program that could help lower insurance costs, says Nancy Shambaugh, human resources executive and employee owner with PC Construction.

The contractor met with Marathon Health to learn more about how its wellness program could help lower insurance costs and engage employees on a different level than with their primary care physicians.

However, cost savings was not the only determining factor. “As important as cost savings are, it is the health and well-being of our employees that is our overall concern,” Shambaugh says. “This program has helped many employees, many times over.”

At PC Construction, workplace health services fall into two categories: a physical space at the corporate headquarters in South Burlington, VT, and private “center” spaces either at regional offices or construction jobsite trailers.

Implementing the workplace health services was fairly simple. According to Shambaugh, the corporate office only needed to provide a private space. Marathon Health supplied all the necessary furniture and equipment.

For the jobsites, a private space is set aside whenever the health coaches are onsite. PC Construction sometimes will use a conference room, empty office or jobsite trailer.

Healthcare at the office

According to Ford, Marathon Health workplace health services can include primary care, preventative care, chronic condition coaching, occupational healthcare, ancillary services and more, depending on the employer’s needs. Jobsite health services typically include health coaching and disease management.

At PC Construction, the corporate headquarters workplace health center is staffed by a Marathon Health family nurse practitioner who provides acute care to any employee who stops in, Shambaugh says.

The nurse practitioner performs annual biometric screens for employees participating in the company’s Wellness Program. She also performs screening follow-ups which include a comprehensive health review, setting measurable goals, holding “check-in” appointments, coaching and general medical advice.

The nurse practitioner at the corporate headquarters health center also assists in coordinating and delivering special health programs like Lunch and Learns and a weight loss program.

Healthcare on the job

PC Construction works on construction projects up and down the eastern seaboard, which means not every employee can stop into the corporate office if they need to see a healthcare professional.

That’s where the regional offices and jobsite workplace health services come into play.  These services are provided by Marathon Health clinicians and traveling health coaches who periodically visit these sites. These Marathon Health staff members can provide the same services, as allowed by their licenses, as the family nurse practitioner in the corporate office does.

Getting employee buy-in

As with most new things, it’s not always easy to get employees on board right away. Shambaugh says many of the PC Construction employees were wary of the new wellness program.

Employees were concerned the program was too “big brother” and management would receive all their personal health information and could potentially take negative actions toward the employees, Shambaugh says.

PC Construction conducted many meetings and made sure to clearly communicate with employees to help them realize the benefits of the program and that management would not get any of their personal health information.

“We only get de-identified information based on the population at-large so that we can see the impact the program has on the health of the population and cost savings to the company,” Shambaugh says.

“Today the employees are very comfortable with the program and what is being offered to them. They are appreciative, and we know that it has helped many employees improve their overall health. Through the biometric screenings, reviews and coaching, employees learned of conditions they had, or what they were at risk for, that would not have happened otherwise,” she adds.

Individual employee buy-in wasn’t the only bump in the road. Making the program work on project sites required a little trial and error. “At first it was a little hard for project sites to accept, and work around, the interruption to the work in progress on the site,” Shambaugh says. “Scheduling and communication was key. After some trial and error, and everyone recognizing the positive results, everyone is now on board, and the program runs very smoothly.”

How it works

At PC Construction, employees who enroll in the company’s medical insurance are eligible to participate in the biometric screening and other activities. Participation in these services receive incentives that go on a Benefits debit card, which is used for out-of-pocket expenses like co-pays, prescriptions, deductibles and other eligible items, Shambaugh says.

Regular visits are scheduled at the project jobsites allowing employees to have screenings, follow-ups and any coaching they would like. “Since we have Marathon Health coaches assigned regionally, employees get to see the same health coach even when they transfer to a new construction project,” Shambaugh says.

Marathon Health uses an electronic medical records system allowing all the regional health coaches access to the same medical information and employee history. This helps if an employee transfers to another jobsite where there is a different regional Marathon health coach. The new coach can pick up where the employee left off at the prior jobsite, Shambaugh points out.

PC Construction also offers incentives for spousal involvement. Getting a spouse involved provides additional support to employees involved in the program.

Return on investment

Since implementing these workplace health servicess, PC Construction has seen a return on its investment in a variety of ways.

According to Shambaugh ROI for 2016 included:

  • 83% of eligible employees went through biometric screenings providing a high level of information and allowing for appropriate outreach and coaching
  • Employee utilization improved from 73% to 77%
  • Spouse dependent utilization was 30% with 39% of those being high risk and chronic engagement
  • 85% coaching engagement rate for high risk and chronic employees
  • 72% average reduction in high blood pressure and total cholesterol in the cohort group
  • Marathon Health received a 97% patient satisfaction rating

The ROI on cost savings was also huge. “Calculating our claims trend from 2012 to 2016, our ROI is 1.9:1. This equates to a gross savings of $3.9 million,” Shambaugh says.

Should you implement workplace health services in your construction company?

If you’re wondering if you should incorporate workplace health services in your construction company and on your project sites Shambaugh and Ford simply say “Give it a try.”

“Find the right partner that can show you the value of the work they’re doing and provides the right services for your employees,” Ford says. “It may be tempting to only consider occupational health services for dealing with on-the-job injuries, but remember that your employees have many health needs – most of which you’re probably unaware of (but are still paying for). Looking at the big picture is what is really going to move the needle on ROI.”

Shambaugh stresses that communication will be key. Communicate with both employees and management. Make sure everyone knows these workplace health centers have two goals:

  1. Healthier, aware and knowledgeable employees who are more invested in their health and wellness
  2. Cost reduction in claims and lower renewal rates for the company with a bonus of having healthier employees who can be at work

Topics: Building & Construction, Blog: News, Updates, and Opinion, In the News, Population Health Management