A recent story in the Washing Post reported that an increasing number of employers are starting to implement on-the-job primary care clinics for their employees. These clinics typically offer free or inexpensive primary care onsite for employees during work hours, in addition to usual health care benefits. The goal of the large employers offering these clinics is to save money by reducing lost wages and health care costs by providing improved and convenient evidence-based preventative primary care. The article gave several interesting anecdotes about how these clinics affect the lives of employees, including one employee who was discovered to be having a heart attack that would have otherwise gone undiagnosed.
The article highlights an import ongoing trend – as we become more concerned about rising health care costs and health care concerns, the best answer isn’t to restrict services. In fact, these companies offer these clinics on top of their existing health care benefits. This evolving arrangement highlights the potential benefit of rational care over rationing care. I believe that this trend will only grow stronger with time. Businesses are starting to realize that they can improve the health of their employees, reduce lost wages, and reduce health care bills – all through being proactive and providing more health care, not less. Perhaps the most exciting consequence of these at-work clinics will be that they provide the environment in which prospective health care can both provide value and be improved upon. Employer-based clinics offers a system where both the patients and payers are on the same side, which provides a stark contrast from the fee-based incentives that currently encourage procedures over prevention and stifle rational delivery of health care. It seems like there could be a real opportunity here for academic and non-profit institutions interested in promoting prospective health to partner with industries implementing this on-the-job model to learn how we can best implement the most effective and efficient models of prospective health care.