Why Some Clinics Are Choosing a Shared Model for Growth

As healthcare costs continue to rise, many businesses are attempting to find innovative ways to give employees access to healthcare services without added expense.

Onsite clinics or near-site clinics have become a popular option for achieving this for many organizations, especially among larger companies with many employees.

But smaller and mid-size businesses may not have enough employees, capital, or physical space to host an onsite or near-site clinic.

Fortunately, one model — the shared clinic model — has recently emerged as a solution for small and mid-sized companies to participate in better healthcare for their employees.

It’s also a popular option for clinics looking to expand their services and grow their practice. Here’s why.

What is the Shared Clinic Model?

The shared clinic model is fairly simple.

Typically, one to four mid-size companies serve as “anchor” employers, and may be joined by a number of smaller employers to fund an onsite or near-site clinic at a specific location.

If several organizations share the same building, for instance, an onsite clinic may be funded by all parties in the building.

Or if a larger employer has an onsite clinic, it may open its services to surrounding businesses, who also fund the clinic for convenient access for their own employees.

This shared funding allows several organizations to work together to increase healthcare access for everyone in a specific location.

The benefits include:

  • Ensuring available care for every employee at a reduced cost (most onsite clinics are self-funded through the employer organizations)
  • Maximizing ROI for healthcare services for multiple organizations
  • Saving money on premium space in busy locations, like metropolitan areas

Many urban organizations, for example, simply don’t have the physical capacity to support a devoted onsite clinic of their own.

Shared clinics are a convenient, affordable, and easily accessible way to remove many of the barriers to healthcare commonly experienced by employees.

Why the Shared Model Benefits Onsite Clinics

The shared model also benefits the clinics themselves.

Many private practices are beginning to see the benefit of becoming an onsite clinic under the shared model.

For one, being onsite can reduce waiting times for employees who seek treatment.

Shared clinics are typically located in the most convenient location, and serve only the organizations that fund it. So employees have minimal wait time compared to clinics that serve a much broader region.

This also means that clinic doctors are able to spend more time with patients, improving the quality of care given.

Employees typically still have access to primary care providers and hospitals, of course. This is an alternative option for them with less waiting time and often better service.

The shared model also helps practices amplify workplace wellness initiatives with the organizations with which they partner.

Studies show that productivity losses linked to poor employee health can cost an organization $1,685 per employee each year on average. More organizations are willing to fund private, onsite clinics in order to save costs on sick employees.

This means that clinics see financial benefit from the employee companies, as well as the ability to maximize care for employees over the long haul.

How to Use the Shared Model for Your Clinic or Practice

If you’re not already an onsite or near-site clinic, and you want to become one, there are a few things you need to know first.

The shared clinic model only works among private companies, but more typically in public-private partnerships.

Clinics need to seek out “anchor” employers who are willing to fund an onsite clinic.

Most often, this means finding self-funded employers who have a vested interest in cutting healthcare costs.

In many cases, public entities like school districts and municipalities are an excellent choice as the anchor employer. Additional employers can be added to the clinic network depending on need or location.

Clinics should first connect with an on-site clinic vendor. According to Towers Watson, 64% of employers with an on-site clinic contract the work to a vendor.

If the partnership between the clinic and the organization is right, the organization typically presents the clinic with an onsite employer request-for-proposal (RFP) that spells out the terms of the onsite contract.

Clinics should review these RFPs carefully to decide whether or not it’s a good fit.

They should also assess and analyze the condition and goals of the organization’s employees. If there are specific medical concerns that the organization wants to address (chronic stress, etc.), you want to ensure that your clinic can provide the right care.

If one of the goals of the organization is to prevent eye strain, for example, but you don’t have an ophthalmologist on staff, it may not be the best fit.

Be careful to choose the right organizational fit for your doctors and medical staff.

You might be the best option for a shared onsite clinic for certain companies, but they might not always be the right patients for you.

Make sure you understand the rules of the shared model before getting involved (review your contracts and RFPs) before signing an agreement you might later regret.

Here are 5 essential questions to ask before becoming a shared clinic.

Final Thoughts

The shared model has many benefits for the employer and the clinic.

Both can save time, money and stress when providing quality healthcare for employees by creating an opportunity for healthcare to be available onsite to a number of companies.

Clinics get to serve their patients more attentively with the promise of funding, while organizations get healthcare services for their whole team at a lower cost.

For clinics looking to become onsite or onsite shared clinics, it’s important to consider everything involved in the process before diving in.

Be sure that the organizations you work with fit your own processes and procedures before signing up to ensure that the relationship will be a long and beneficial one for both parties.

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