The Increasingly Meaningful Role of Wellness in the Workplace: Franciscan Alliance and HealtheACCESS team up

2013-07-07T11:00:00Z 2013-07-08T13:24:04Z The Increasingly Meaningful Role of Wellness in the Workplace: Franciscan Alliance and HealtheACCESS team upMichelle Krueger Times Correspondent
July 07, 2013 11:00 am  • 

Countless studies over the last several years reveal how fit and healthy employees improve productivity, reduce absenteeism and lower healthcare utilization.

Specifically demonstrating the economic upside of adopting and maintaining employee wellness programs, findings from the University of Michigan Health Management Research Center show healthy employees cost an average of $4,000 less each year in health care costs than unhealthy employees.

Further, the data indicates that simply providing health information to employees isn’t enough to motivate the lifestyle changes necessary to significantly improve health. A comprehensive approach - including access to screenings, wellness policies, other benefits and supports, as well as periodic evaluations of workplace policies and programs – are proven to be more effective.

When it comes to making healthy choices and preventing chronic diseases, an investment in comprehensive workplace wellness programs can bring returns of $3-$6 for each dollar invested by an employer.

“Companies can benefit greatly from adopting and maintaining employee wellness programs,” Tim Ross, Franciscan Alliance Regional Director of WorkingWell: A Network of Occupational Health, said. “WorkingWell, the Occupational Health program of Franciscan Alliance's Northwest Indiana hospitals, is a regional program that provides a comprehensive approach to employers with job-related health needs including drug testing, injury treatment, onsite/near-site dedicated clinics and Healthy U @ Work, which includes health risk assessments, onsite health screenings, employee assistance and education. We work with employers to create customized, integrated solutions that are innovative, results-driven and cost-effective.”

Rated among the best in the nation, and the only program of its kind to gain International Organization of Standardization (IOS) certification, WorkingWell provides occupational health care services for all types of workers, including professional, industrial, police officers and firefighters.

“Recently, while reviewing an RFP (request for proposal) for services, we found that we were able to cover part of the business while HealtheACCESS Clinics LLC, an urgent care, primary care, wellness and occupational health services organization with four locations in Portage and Valparaiso met the needs of another part,” Scott Mundell, Franciscan Alliance Regional Director of Business Development, said.

“Essentially, HealtheACCESS would provide the clinic services, and Franciscan Alliance would provide all the ancillary services at our hospitals,” Ross added.

“After that, we kept the discussions going about forming a joint venture of some sort,” Mundell explained. “Then, we started looking at it as an acquisition, and the transition details came together very quickly. They were a very good compliment to our network, and they also bring their own unique model, including a product we currently don’t have - they offer individuals and companies an opportunity to pay a monthly fee that covers all primary care visits and provides discounts for other services. This is a direction healthcare is going. It provides an answer for people who don’t have a primary insurance carrier.”

Effective June 1, Don Kiger, HealtheACCESS Clinics owner, said the new affiliation was made with patients’ best interests at heart.

“The purchase by Franciscan Alliance means aligning HealtheACCESS with one of the most innovative, customer-centric health care organizations in the Midwest,” Kiger said. “Our clients deserve world-class services and partnering with Franciscan Alliance adds a strong dose of health care sophistication to our group.”

Employers who think the Affordable Care Act is complex have three basic choices, according to Den Bishop, President of Holmes Murphy & Associates, one of the nation's largest independent insurance brokers, and author of a newly-released book on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

• The first option is to shift the cost of health care to their employees and stop offering insurance.

• The second is to share the constantly rising health care costs with employees, as most employers are doing now.

• The third is to influence those costs as a business strategy by battling disease and steering employees toward the best medical care for the lowest price.

Of the three - shift, share, influence - only influence attacks the real problem with health care, according to Bishop.

“Disease is the enemy,” he has stated repeatedly when discussing health care reform. “It's not the hospitals. It's not the insurance companies. It's not the federal government. Businesses are finding out that they can save substantial money by adopting policies that ‘produce less disease’ among employees, such as requiring that employees take part in wellness programs that lower the incidence of heart problems, diabetes and other common diseases.”

Just as employers require factory workers to wear safety glasses, requiring participation in wellness programs offsets risks that can be costly to them.

“We can bring the resources of the two organizations together to meet the needs and demands of our customers - patients and businesses,” Mundell said. “HealtheACCESS has developed and operated a unique and highly successful model. They provide urgent care, family care and occupational health services, which Franciscan Alliance also provides, but in different models through Franciscan ExpressCare, Working Well and Franciscan Physician Network. By incorporating the best practices of both organizations and adding new locations, we will be able to better serve the people of Northwest Indiana.”

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