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How to Ace Direct-to-Employer Services

By Christopher Cheney  
   June 19, 2017

At Bellin Health, offering employees vaccinations, preventive-medicine screenings, and free services for some health conditions has made a significant reduction in the number of claims.

Bellin Health Systems has transformed an internal workforce challenge into a thriving direct-to-employer service business model.

"We think more health systems should get in this business," says Randy Van Straten, vice president of business health at the Green Bay, WI-based health system, which features an acute-care hospital, a critical access hospital and more than two dozen primary care clinics.

In the early 2000s, a harsh reality turned into a dream opportunity for Bellin, Van Straten says. The health system was facing a 30% increase in the premium cost for employee health insurance coverage. "What we found out was that we really didn’t know our employees," he says.

Bellin examined the health of its workforce and launched an aggressive effort to improve the medical status of its employees.

The health system, which employs 3,600 people, saved about $23 million in employee-healthcare costs through 2015, he says. The number of employees at risk for one or more serious medical conditions dropped from 14.2% to 6.6%. From 2014 to 2015, Bellin was able to decrease its per-employee healthcare costs 1%.

Bellin now provides a range of on-site services to more than 100 companies. In addition to building on the experience of boosting healthcare services for its employees, there are several essential ingredients in Bellin's recipe for direct-to-employer services success:

  • On-site clinics at large-employer facilities such as the home of the National Football League's Green Bay Packers, Lambeau Field. The Packers, who offer access to their clinic for all of the team's workers, have a seat on Bellin's board.
  • In addition to on-site health clinics, Bellin offers employers a range of on-site occupational health services such as vaccinations, a turn-key corporate health and wellness program, and fitness centers.
  • At-risk strategic partnerships feature health clinics based on pay-for-performance and shared savings models. Bellin has about two dozen strategic partners and annual revenue growth from strategic partnerships is exceeding the health system’s 10% goal, posting gains from 12% to 18% in recent years.
  • Bellin's strategy for offering on-site health services is grounded on generating results for employers and using that track record to attract new clients, Van Straten says. "You don’t want to grow your business on the backs of employers."
  • An effective cost-containment strategy for Bellin's workforce has been offering free services such as preventive care for a half-dozen conditions, including diabetes, tobacco addiction, and cardiovascular disease. Offering free services for these conditions has made significant reductions in the number of claims for care more than $50,000.
  • Bellin is devoting marketing resources to the service line. Last year, five account executives and three sales executives helped generate and maintain large-employer clients for on-site health services. Account executives were deployed based on business-mix segments of the local market, and sales executives were deployed based on regions and types of on-site services.
  • Primary care growth is a key metric to gauge the financial performance of direct-to-employer health services. In recent years, Bellin has boosted its primary care patient population at annual rates of more than 10%.

Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care​ editor at HealthLeaders.

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