On-site Hospital Wellness Programs Create Savings

by: Nichole Gunn November 16, 2010

The Phoenix Business Journal reports that a number of Valley hospitals are initiating on-site employee wellness incentive programs. These programs offer classes on healthy living and also access to doctors.

One hospital in particular, the self-insured Gilbert Hospital has been reaping the benefits of its employee wellness program that it started a year ago. It has saved $1.6 million so far.

“The reason the program has been so successful is that it keeps our employees out of the emergency room,” said Dr. Anne Borik, director of the hospital’s program and the sole doctor in its wellness clinic. Simple illnesses such as sore throats and ear infections are treated in the wellness clinic rather than the emergency room. “Visits to the clinic are much less expensive for the hospital than visits to the ER,” she adds.

Another hospital, the Mayo Clinic is also involved in employee health programs with its Live Well program initiated in 2005. Through its programs, Mayo benefits analyst Robert McGriff noted that the company “has seen savings from a large decrease in employee ER visits and insurance claims. Mayo employs 4,900 people in Arizona.”

Wellness program strategies mentioned in the report include:

  • On-site medical clinic for employees
  • Healthy living classes taught by various doctors, therapists and personal trainers
  • Discounts on insurance premiums to employees who take part in its wellness classes
  • Healthy, low-calorie breakfast and lunches in the cafeteria and healthy snack choices in the vending machines
  • Walking trails on campus

With medical and insurance costs ever rising, employers are setting healthcare costs as a priority. A recent study by MetLife examined employee benefits. The findings demonstrated “that 69 percent of employers believed a wellness program could reduce medical costs – which they also listed as their top employee benefit objective.”