Article

3-Minute case study: On-site care for employee health

By Erin Graham | February 26, 2020

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The problem

A self-insured meat packing facility near Houston, Texas, found that just because its employees had health insurance, doesn’t mean that they could access routine and preventive care. That’s because the deck was stacked against many of its blue-collar, hourly wage earners who struggled with co-pays, managing chronic conditions, knowing where to go for care, and taking time off work for appointments.

The company was also facing highly variable healthcare spending of $2 million or more every year, with little insight or control into where the money was going.

The solution

The company turned to Hamilton Health Hub to assess its healthcare costs and identify ways to deliver better care. “Most employers want to take care of their employees,” says Glenn Davis, MD, chief medical officer of Hamilton Health Hub. “Some of it is financial — employers want to limit days of lost work and turnover — but smaller companies like this one are like families, and they really care.”

Hamilton Health Hub established an onsite employer micro-clinic offering immediate access to primary, urgent, and chronic care to employees with no co-pays and no wait time. With only about 300 employees, the organization was too small for the clinic to be constantly staffed by physicians. Instead, they set up a dedicated space for one on-site medical technician and an InTouch Health console for 24-hour telehealth services to Hamilton Health Hub providers.

The full-time medical technician held extended hours for shift workers, who could drop in over lunch breaks or before or after work. The technician triaged employees’ care to in-network specialists when needed, coordinated virtual visits, and helped employees manage chronic conditions. As an incentive, the facility knocked $500 off employees’ annual insurance costs if they got their annual physicals on site.

The outcome

Since implementing the micro-clinic, the meat packing facility has found an increase in healthcare utilization. Additionally, the cost of care has been lower than if employees went to off-site clinics.

During the Hub’s four months on site, employees’ ED visits dropped and urgent care visits were cut in half, compared to the same four months the previous year. Hamilton Health Hub estimates that during the four-month pilot, the model has reduced the facility's overall healthcare spend by $100,000, which so far averages out to $71 per member per month. It has also saved employees more than $30,000 to date in deductibles and co-pays.

Additionally, there’s also the trickle-down savings that come with being able to access care before health problems cascade. “Bladder infections don’t turn into kidney infections, and the flu doesn’t turn into pneumonia if employees are accessing care,” says Davis. And for some employees, getting care isn’t just convenient — it’s lifesaving. During routine primary care visits, for example, Hamilton Health providers have diagnosed undetected coronary artery disease (CAD) in four employees, which can be deadly if not treated.

“As someone who’s been doing primary care for 20 years, seeing this model work is exciting,” says Davis, who is eager to start putting numbers to the more intangible values they’re creating, such as increased employee satisfaction, retention and productivity. “It really shows how much the medical system needs to — and can — evolve.”