Some years ago I was doing a strategic planning engagement for a community hospital in Pittsburgh. The CEO was telling us some of the history of the hospital, including that it once had a “J and L” floor. This floor was staffed by physicians employed by the J and L Steel and treated injured employees from the mill across the street. Coal mining companies often had their own doctors in the company towns. I worked in the main Macy’s New York store, and there was a medical clinic on the 9th floor. By and large, medical clinincs inside the workplace has gone away over time.
As reported in the Kaiser Health Policy report today, the Philadelphia Inquirer this past weekend ran two articles on onsite medical clinics (see the links from the Kaiser report and summary). They highlighed the clinic run for L-3 Communications by a contract firm. A major benefit for the company and the employees is that employees will be seen the same day, and that seemingly minor problems can be screened and addressed before the the cold – or flu – spreads throughout the workplace. Even Wal-mart, in the infamous memo planning to avoid employing health problems, hinted at using retail clinics to care for sick employees. Duh. Using a contracted, third party physician can also offer the arms-length relationship so that patient privacy can be maintained. Whether the employer should be notified when an employee does not comply with a plan of care, such as wellness issues (stop smoking, prescriptions, etc) is one of the issues that should be dealt with upfront in a contract.
Some companies are trying to intercede and demand that employees follow certain wellness programs in order to be hired or remain employed. The legality of such a practice is highly questionable on a number of levels, but that’s a sidebar issue.
From a marketing perspective, a practice can set up an office in an office park area, offer walk-in appointments for employees of contracted companies or companies in a certain business district, or offer discounts (for cash payments only). Employers have an interest in employees getting preventive care, and getting fast care for routine service to minimize time off. Go out and talk to businesses about how you can help them with your program for local employers.
We always recommend that client physicians spend time targeting local businesses in their marketing. We plan and help you execute an ongoing contracting and promotion program to reach out to the business community. Employers are interested in saving money, but also seeing value for their health spending, and physicians are in a unique position to help physicians do this.