By Tanya L. Gilbert BS, MA, NLPP
How important is your health to you? What is the priority? With the busy, fast-paced lives most of us have, getting to a doctor can take a back seat to just getting through a normal day of juggling work, family, pets, and extra-curricular activities. Too often however, a catastrophic illness or event is what will prompt someone to look back and see the writing on the wall—“If only I hadn’t put off going to the doctor…..” before I had a heart attack, developed type-2 diabetes or advanced cervical cancer.
Statistics show that nearly one third of the 133 million Americans living with a chronic disease are unaware of their health condition—which leads to chronic disease currently causing 7 out of every 10 deaths.[i]
Regular health exams are essential to maintaining good health, and should be a fundamental part of everyone’s preventive healthcare routine. Committing to a routine exam every year allows a provider to find health problems early when your chances for treatment and a cure are better.
One of the innovators of onsite clinics is American Health Network, based out of Indianapolis and Ohio. American Health Network has become one of Indiana’s leading organizations to offer onsite clinics to both larger and midsized companies. Employer Health is a division of AHN that began in 2010, offering Nurse Health Coaching services to clients. In 2013, Employer Health expanded their services considerably by opening their first onsite clinic. With a total of 15 clients and 6 onsite clinics to date, Employer Health continues to expand their services to clients who wish to support the health and wellbeing of their employees and community. In terms of results, Employer Health clients have experienced return-on-investment in year two; average medication savings of 39%, laboratory savings of 65%, and overall increased employee satisfaction.
Services offered by AHN Employer Health clinics include annual physicals, vaccines, maintenance medications for conditions such as Diabetes and Hypertension, vaccines, and treatment for acute illnesses. Having an on onsite provider removes the barrier employees face to take time off work for routine doctor’s appointments, time spent waiting at pharmacies, and allows for prompt treatment if an employee falls ill during the workday, or happens to get injured on the job. Minor work injuries and drug screens are also offered at the onsite clinics. With the barriers removed, a simple path is created allowing employees to put their health and wellbeing first.
In addition to medical care, AHN also offers Nurse Health Coaching services. Health Coaches guide and motivate employees to make healthy lifestyle changes such as losing weight, managing stress, stopping tobacco, and increasing exercise and encourage positive behavioral change with goal setting and accountability. Health Coaches also help the employees navigate the healthcare system with referrals to local resources. Working with a Health Coach can lead to a healthier employee base and lower overall healthcare costs. AHN clinics provide health coaches who are also registered nurses (RN) to ensure a wide spectrum of clinical care and disease management can be addressed during sessions.
Onsite clinics remove the barriers to wellness and allow employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance, ensuring preventive can take priority. The benefits of having an onsite provider will allow your employees to develop an open, trusting relationship with a provider and a health coach. These ongoing relationships are efficacious ways to manage disease and treat illnesses before they become chronic or life-threatening. Onsite clinics are appearing to be a key investment—while saving lives, improving lives, and saving your company money.
By the employer sponsoring the onsite clinic, employees gain a better sense of prioritizing their healthcare. This can improve the employer-employee relationship—developing rapport, which in turn generates improved productivity, attendance, and retention. Employees who come to work sick are able to be cared for vs. coming to work feeling ill or staying home and not seeking treatment. Employees may now start to associate their job as a caretaker, potentially rewiring the relationship we have with our employers. Dare we imagine having jobs where we truly felt cared for by our company? Could this be where the future is headed?
An Onsite clinic, paired with Nurse Health Coaching, is a strategic combination of both preventive health and condition management services. The barrier of finding time to go to the doctor is removed. By accepting the fact that American’s are busy and do prioritize daily life over their own health, we are able to meet people where they are by providing a new path to the services they need to prevent chronic debilitating disease and support the treatment of acute and chronic illness.
Strategically overcoming the barriers of America’s healthcare system has been a challenge—but one the AHN Employer Health organization continues to master. Their operation is led by a team of wellness professionals who believe in creating this better path to health—a path hopefully more employers will be progressive enough to follow.
Article written by Tanya L. Gilbert, Edited by Jennifer Gleckman & Katie Fucik