Using predictive and prescriptive analytics, the city and the consultants came up with a revolutionary plan to help them address these issues. Rather than offering traditional health plans, the city would open its own on-site health clinic with a goal of fulfilling 100% of the primary care needs of employees and their families.
To make it easy for employees to access, the clinic was centrally located within the city. This meant that in most cases employees and their families could now see their PCP the same day. If not, the maximum wait time for an appointment was three days, which was far better than the weeks it typically took before. They could also receive breast, prostate and skin cancer screenings on-site, saving time while encouraging early detection of potentially life-threatening health issues.
Addressing the many dimensions of wellness
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Yet it wasn’t just the normal physical health services that were included in the program. Instead, the center was designed to address all eight dimensions of wellness, offering a variety of services (psychological, life and wellness coaching, debt management, assistance with social determinants of health issues, work/life balance, etc.), making it a one-stop shop for help with all the factors that could affect the health of employees and their families. All these services, incidentally, were offered at no cost to the employees, providing even greater incentive to take advantage of them — especially given the rising cost of seeing providers outside the health center.
One of the best aspects to the program was its flexibility, which enabled more services to be added later. For example, employees using personal fitness devices could opt to have their information linked to their electronic health record (EHR). This was particularly important for those in the program with obesity or other chronic conditions. Their PCPs could monitor their activities to ensure they were as active as they should be. If not, a nurse care manager or counselor could follow up to encourage them to increase their activity levels. After the initial successful launch, the program was opened up to retirees, becoming an additional benefit that was offered by other cities or the private sector.
To date, the program has experienced incredible engagement. The wellness center has seen more than 5,000 unique patients, with an appointment utilization rate that rose from 50% prior to the program to 80% today. It continues to grow, adding an average of 60 new patients per month as word spreads. Satisfaction is also high, with 93% of those surveyed saying they are satisfied with the wellness center itself and 90% satisfied with the benefits package.