In the middle of a public health crisis, every industry is forced to adapt, shifting and implementing new strategies to make health and safety top priority. The healthcare industry is no exception. Many onsite and nearsite health centers have pivoted to a virtual-first environment to protect the safety of staff while ensuring employees’ access to care isn’t prohibited. Telehealth has grown tremendously over the past eight years, and even more in the last eight months, with both providers and patients coming to accept providing and receiving care digitally. While digital health grows in popularity, especially during a pandemic, physical spaces and health centers can’t be left behind.
Employers shouldn’t abandon their onsite or nearsite health centers because their employees aren’t physically working in the office anymore. Instead, companies should focus on implementing a combination of physical and digital access points to provide convenient access to high-quality care as they evolve to meet the needs of their team members.
The two traditional physical direct healthcare models are onsite and nearsite wellness centers. Onsite health centers can be defined as providing care on the employer’s campus. Nearsite health centers deliver care built where members and their families live in the community. There are a number of other in-person healthcare models that help employers reach employees where they are, including:
- Mobile – These on-the-go health centers are care on wheels and can bring physicals, immunizations, and mobile health screenings to employees.
- Centers of Excellence – This approach provides streamlined access to specialty care for members with complex needs or for those that have been unable to find answers elsewhere.
- Event – In-person events can range fromCOVID-19 screenings and worksite physicals to corporate 5ks and seasonal flu vaccines. Each is delivered by the local health center team.
Physical Access in Action
While at work, a member experiences severe abdominal pain that kept her up the night before and only got worse. She takes the elevator down to her onsite wellness center for immediate care, where the provider diagnoses her with probable appendicitis and sends her to the ER immediately. At the hospital, the diagnosis is confirmed, and the member is taken into surgery for an emergency appendectomy. Because the member had convenient access to an onsite provider, she was able to receive the right care at the right time, resulting in the best outcome.
Digital access to care has evolved substantially since it was introduced to the industry, moving from a simple sick visit to providing a wide variety of care – everything from chronic condition management to physical therapy to nutrition coaching can be delivered at the touch of a button. Digital access complements an onsite health center by offering every member the opportunity to receive care from their known and trusted provider from the convenience of their home or office. This access to care is especially valuable during a pandemic when physical options may not be available, as providers can order home testing for members being seen virtually. Web and app-based portals are also part of digital access, improving virtual communication by allowing members to schedule appointments, view test results, securely message their providers, and sync their connected devices.
- Virtual healthcare – This encompasses all the ways a provider can digitally interact with their patients, such as video, audio, or secure messaging. Using your onsite or nearsite providers or a national, 24/7 provider team, care is convenient for members, regardless of where they are.
- Connected devices – Connected devices like blood pressure cuffs, fitness trackers, and heart rate monitors share health and activity data with providers so they can stay up to date between visits and modify care plans if necessary.
Digital Access in Action
A member sees his provider for an annual physical and finds out he has high blood pressure. His provider suggests using a blood pressure cuff so they can both monitor it. Later that week, the doctor receives a notification that the member’s blood pressure is elevated, so she contacts him to check in. The provider learns he is using the blood pressure cuff incorrectly, which led to inaccurate information. Using a virtual visit, she teaches the individual the proper way to use the cuff to ensure he’s staying healthy and monitoring his blood pressure correctly. This saved the member a visit to the provider’s office and unnecessary interventions for a blood pressure that was not truly elevated. Because the provider had digital access to the member’s health data, she was able to intervene and have a positive impact on the member’s health journey, even though they weren’t physically together.
A Valuable Combination
Every population is unique, from health diagnoses and conditions to physical location of employees. To meet employees wherever they are and wherever they go, employer health and wellness offerings should be a hybrid of digital and physical access points to accommodate each member’s circumstances and preferences.
Not only are multiple access points more convenient, their integration leads to higher utilization and better outcomes, resulting in overall healthier lives. The front door of your health center shouldn’t look the same for every member, as each individual is unique, and your solutions should account for that.
At Premise Health, our operations and member engagement teams support our clients with strategies and best practices to ensure each member receives the best experience for their unique needs.
Combination in Action
Late one night, an employee’s dependent complains of a sharp pain in their ear, so the individual schedules a video visit through their online portal. The virtual health provider determines the child should see their nearsite provider first thing in the morning and takes care of the logistics, creating an appointment and passing along the member’s information via the integrated EMR that all providers have access to.
The employee and child arrive at their nearsite center the next morning. The onside provider is able to view the virtual provider’s notes and recommendations in the electronic medical record (EMR) prior to performing their own exam. Based on the evaluation, the provider diagnoses the child with an infection and prescribes the appropriate treatment. She sends the prescription electronically through the EMR to the connected nearsite pharmacy. After the visit, the mother, child, and provider walk to the connected pharmacy to pick up the prescription. The pharmacist sits down with the mom to make sure she knows how to administer the medication at the proper dosage and frequency. Three days later, the provider sends a secure message to the employee to check in. From beginning to end, the provider team worked together seamlessly to ensure the child received the right care, at the right time.
Regardless of your employees’ physical location – whether in the office or in a remote environment –providing both physical and digital access points will ensure they are able to get the care they need in a way that’s most convenient for them. Offering a combination of both removes barriers to care, keeps employees engaged in their health journey, and leads to better outcomes for happier, healthier members.
At Premise, we believe the combination of digital and physical access, or virtual and in-person care, drives the greatest engagement. Do you need to re-think your organization’s healthcare access? Contact us or download our Direct Healthcare eBook to continue evaluating your organization’s access to quality healthcare.