Health Outcomes Data—What You’ve Always Wanted But Can’t Seem To Get From Wellness Programs

Better data and outcomes when local governments stop measuring participation rates and identify a valid strategy for measuring health and wellness outcomes.

ARTICLE | Mar 14, 2017

Is it time to trade up your wellness programs for an employee health center? Wellness programs seem to make sense. They’re like vitamins—you’re pretty sure they help, and store shelves are covered with them. But where is the health improvement data? One City, just like yours, has some compelling health outcomes data to share four years into implementing their employee health center (see below).

I recently attended a roundtable discussion on Employee Population Health with a group of senior HR professionals. As a discussion starter, each was invited to comment on their population health initiatives. Most made two comments. First, they simply described their latest wellness initiatives (i.e. smoking cessation, fitness incentives, nutrition). Second, each repeated, “We can’t measure outcomes so we measure success by participation rates.” No one even mentioned measuring Population Health, nor could they point to outcome data for those wellness programs.

Population Health is defined as "The health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.” By definition, one can’t do Population Health without measuring outcomes.  Participation rates are unreliable in correlating to health outcomes and lower healthcare costs. We can do better!

Population Health Measures

Onsite Care GraphicThe City implemented an employee health clinic in 2012 as a better strategy for accomplishing Population Health improvements among their health plan employees and dependents. The City has a self-funded health plan and 500 full-time employees. Their insurance carrier (third-party claims administrator) provided the following data comparing their clinic-user population to the carrier’s total book-of-business over four years. The City demonstrated clear improvements in health-risk scores and reductions in gaps-in-care counts when compared with the carrier book-of-business in all four years.  Moreover, they’ve showed consistent, significant reductions in specialist visits, urgent care visits, and ER visits as compared with the carrier book-of-business in all four years of operation. They are getting more of the right healthcare at the right time, and less of what they don’t need. The clinic more than pays for itself.

Employee Workplace Health Clinics

Employee workplace health clinics or wellness centers are among the most impactful tools employers can use to achieve Population Health goals. They provide a means of:

  • Improving access to high-quality primary and preventive care
  • Lowering the cost of care, both for employee and employer
  • Obtaining clinical data that will actually measure health outcomes
  • Supporting individuals with chronic disease without the employer violating HIPAA privacy laws
  • Increasing employee accountability and engagement in their own health

Is there a better wellness program than an employee healthcare clinic? This City says “no.”  It is a bigger decision to make than adding another exercise incentive or running a smoking cessation program. But as this City’s data demonstrates, taking such a bold step will move Population Health results much farther down the outcomes path.  Perhaps you should take another look at the best wellness program out there—a workplace wellness center.

Learn More at TLG

The upcoming TLG (Transforming Local Government) conference in Tulsa will highlight yet another city’s experience with setting up and operating a workplace wellness center. Please attend and hear a case study from City of Mesa, AZ’s Employee Wellness Center, Establishing Employee Health Centers and Creating Positive Health Outcomes, City of Mesa, AZ,” on Thursday, April 20, at 2:45 pm.

About OnSite Care

OnSite Care invites you to consider the strategic impact of a workplace clinic alongside your other investments in wellness programs and incentives. We are happy to help you analyze your health plan data and present a free estimate of the outcomes a workplace wellness center will have on your employee population and your healthcare spend.  Please call or email your interest, thoughts and questions to:

Bruce Bartholomew, Business Development Officer
OnSite Care Inc


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