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The benefit of direct care for on-site and near-site employer health clinics

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Employers are as concerned about healthcare costs as their employees and, as such, search for alternatives to traditional healthcare plans for those employees. The direct care model has been proven to offer benefits as the provider of employee healthcare at on-site and near-site employer health clinics.

One company, in particular, that recognized the potential for those benefits conducted a case study of a group of its employees before offering on-site direct care as a company-wide employee healthcare plan. DigitalGlobe, based in Colorado, conducted its study from June to December 2015 by offering the direct model to its Colorado employees. The company also has employees in Tampa, Florida, and Herndon, Virginia.

Company leaders had reviewed information about the direct care model and recognized that it saved businesses and their employees a significant amount of money while providing high quality healthcare. DigitalGlobe searched for a direct care provider and conducted their study with three goals in mind:

  1. Improve the overall health of employees.
  2. Provide employees a more positive healthcare experience.
  3. Reduce healthcare costs for the employees and the company (a self-insured entity).

Employees, in general, realized a number of benefits from their direct care healthcare. The ability to communicate directly with their provider by phone, text, and email was particularly valuable to them. In addition, they were appreciative that they did not have to wait long when they visited the doctor and did not feel rushed during the appointment.

Another benefit came about because of the closer relationship and the focused nature of the provider visit in the direct care on-site model. The company’s report on their study indicated that “there were several instances in which serious health issues (specifically, pre-cancerous conditions, pre-diabetes, and early stage liver cirrhosis) were discovered during a routine checkup or an unrelated treatment—healthcare encounters that the participants readily admit might have been postponed or neglected in the past.”

In addition, the direct care on-site physicians were able to focus on more personal challenges with the company’s employees, such as stress management, dermatological concerns, and weight loss. Many employees “reported that the added level of accountability … was a significant factor in achieving health and wellness successes in those and other areas.”

The company also realized cost savings during the very brief study period. For example, the company estimated “a diversion of costs averaging $54.31 per-member per-month and additional care prevention of $99.99 per-member per-month, for a total savings of $221,442 over the seven months.”