After suffering from bipolar disorder, hypertension, prediabetes, anxiety, allergies, and other conditions, Brandy Teets says she finally has control of her health for the first time. “At my most recent biometric screening, my waist is the smallest it has been in two years, my blood pressure is spectacular, I’m no longer at risk for prediabetes, and my allergies are very well-managed,” she says.

Brandy is just one of the many patient success stories as a result of visiting a workplace health center through her husband’s employee-benefits program with the City of Charlotte. Across the U.S., Marathon Health offers independent, advanced primary care with more than 240 workplace health centers located onsite or in popular network locations in retail areas around town. The company also offers virtual care with 24/7 nurse triage.

Employees and their families receive better access to independent primary care through the Marathon Health centers in 40+ states. Patients learn how to manage chronic health conditions, and they receive health assessments and coaching while having access to behavioral health services, physical therapy, and lab and pharmacy services. The integrated approach treats the whole patient while saving both employees and employers money.

“On average, employers see a savings of $2,000 annually for each employee who uses Marathon Health for care. Those patients also report better management of chronic conditions and improved overall health. The impact on businesses and patients is significant, and this has been underscored throughout the pandemic,” says Jeff Wells, MD, CEO and co-founder of Marathon Health.

Promoting Health in the Workplace

Employers increasingly view their investments in health and wellbeing as an integral part of their workforce strategy. Companies want to take the necessary steps to improve healthcare for their employees, reduce their health plan spend and address the rising need for behavioral healthcare services.

According to the 2020 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey, 45 percent of respondents see a strong connection between employee health and wellbeing and overall business performance (up from 36 percent in 2019). Onsite and near-site workplace health centers provide a smart solution that delivers high quality of care along with cost savings.

“Marathon Health’s Network model delivers cost savings, predictability on future spend and a healthier workforce. It’s the only solution I’ve found in my 15 years as a benefit consultant that delivers consistent results over the long term,” says Dominic Franchini, CBC, Vice President and Partner of Horan.

Mollie Fry, Wellbeing and Benefits manager for First Financial Bank, which joined Marathon Health in 2019, says offering a benefits solution that supports their associates and their family’s holistic wellbeing makes them stand out. “Marathon Health aligns with that mission by being cost-effective, flexible, and convenient,” she says.

An Integrated Approach for Workplace Health Centers

With the nation facing a shortage of up to 55,200 primary care doctors by 2032, employers are realizing they need to make sure their employees have better access to care while avoiding unnecessary costly visits to the ER.

At the same time, employers across the country continually feel the effects when workers and their families are struggling with chronic health conditions at an alarming rate. The CDC reports six in 10 adults in the U.S. have a chronic disease, and four in 10 have two or more.

Taking an integrated approach to address employee healthcare improves overall wellness while costing less money, and saving time away from work. Change can be hard, but motivated patients who have a partner by their side are more likely to meet health goals and sustain improvements. On average, Marathon Health clinicians spend 30 minutes to an hour with patients to get to the root cause of health and wellness issues and develop a plan to make improvements and reach goals.

When choosing a healthcare company to partner with, employers should work with a vendor who focuses on population health risk management. Marathon Health, for example, identifies high-risk patients before they require expensive care. Clinicians become heavily involved in patient care with health coaching strategies to motivate patients to become partners in their own healthcare. Adhering to clinical practice guidelines, clinicians coordinate with the patient and track specific outcomes. The health centers take it a step further by monitoring and measuring clinical and cost metrics while showing health savings to employers as patients improve.

“Marathon Health gives providers extra time to build relationships with their patients, free of any hospital or health system partnerships,” says Wells, noting that Marathon Health is the only employer healthcare solution that offers a network of health centers in the communities where employees and their families live. “This unique model includes multi-channel access to care – virtual or in-person – which is critical to meeting patient needs.”

Addressing Mental Health Needs in the Workplace

The pandemic has also highlighted the need for better mental healthcare services, with 35% of adults in the U.S. reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression at the end of March 2021.

Through an integrated care approach, Marathon Health patients have reported significant improvement in their mental health, and employers have seen considerable savings tied to redirected care, lower absenteeism, and higher productivity.

“Our behavioral health services have been readily and easily available through video and telephone since March 2020,” says Denise Meyers, MS, National Director for Mental Health Services for Marathon Health. “In many communities around the country, there are long waitlists to see a behavioral health provider — in some cases up to two years. Our providers are part of an integrated care team that works in unison with the health center’s medical clinician so patients don’t have to wait to get the care they need.”

Heather Soule, an employee at New Balance, said she struggled with low self-esteem, found it difficult to focus on tasks, and always felt tired and depressed, even occasionally experiencing suicidal thoughts. After meeting with clinicians at Marathon Health, she was prescribed an antidepressant, and they helped her create an action plan to address other areas of her health.

“I have a more positive outlook, I have more energy and focus, and my overall quality of life has improved,” Heather says. “I am now 40 pounds lighter. Best of all, I’m happier.”

Worksite Health Centers Save Lives and Money

The City of Charlotte — with around 16,000 employees, retirees, and their families — has seen a more than 80% utilization rate in accessing the Marathon Health centers. “Our clinic solution is saving our health plan money, saving our employees money, delivering quality care, but most importantly, it is improving the health of our population and even saving lives,” says Christina Fath, the Benefits Manager for the City of Charlotte.

She says they’ve been committed to investing in employee health and wellness since 2016, and the results speak for themselves with employees giving Marathon Health a 99% – “Excellent” or “Good” review. They’ve also seen 95% of their prediabetic patients either improve or maintain their A1c. For every dollar invested, Fath says they’ve seen a $1.98 return.

When looking at three employers leveraging the onsite and near-site health centers, along with patients who visited those centers three or more times a year, Marathon Health saw significant savings and better healthcare outcomes. Patients used emergency departments 22% less, which led to average savings of $420 per member per year in healthcare costs. Overall, employee healthcare costs were 17 percent less than expected. Almost half of 3,052 patients who identified with prediabetes reduced their values to optimal levels after utilizing a health center.

To date, Marathon Health has saved clients more than $1 billion in healthcare costs and over $23 million during the pandemic by providing access to healthcare when many traditional institutions did not.

“Our customers are typically self-funded,” Wells says. “What that means is every dollar saved in healthcare costs is a dollar that they can reinvest in their business and their workforce. Across our clients, we see those savings continue to grow each year.”

Most importantly, employers are helping their employees and their families live healthier lives. When people are managing their health successfully, they are more likely to have energy, a sense of purpose, and the ability to focus on work. It can make a huge impact on a company, an employee, and their family.

Brandy says she used to dread going to the doctor’s office, but her husband’s worksite clinic has partnered with her to improve her health over the last several years. “I used to feel completely hopeless as if a good doctor didn’t exist,” she says. “[The clinicians at Marathon Health] have changed my life. I’m so humbled and beyond blessed to be their patient.”

About the Author: Kristy Esch

Kristy Esch
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