Many plan sponsors use on-site clinics to address the health and wellness of their participants and sometimes, the participant’s family members. These clinics provide easy access for all health-related services, coordinate care from multiple providers and provide support and education for patients.
Larry Boress, Executive Director, National Association of Worksite Health Centers (NAWHC), presented an April 9 International Foundation webcast, providing insight into the current landscape of on-site health clinics and the models that have been used for years to address the well-being of employees. Boress discussed the changes on-site clinics are making to their procedures and identified best practices for employers managing coronavirus-related health issues through their clinics.
How on-site clinics are adapting to the coronavirus pandemic
In March 2020, Mercer interviewed several large clinic vendors and found that many were making changes to their services, including offering limited services or converting to virtual/telehealth services. The clinics had taken actions such as conducting telephone pre-screenings for flu or cold illnesses, offering “pop-up” screening sites for pre-screened patients in parking lots or other off-campus sites, and rescheduling—or transitioning to virtual—preventive services such as biometric exams, physicals, vaccinations and wellness visits.
[Upcoming Webcast: Making Investment Decisions in a Time of Uncertainty | April 28, 2020]
For plan sponsors with an on-site clinic, some COVID-19 best practices include:
- Assign a single point person to relay consistent messaging.
- Monitor the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) website for guidelines and recommendations.
- Maintain rigorous cleaning and sanitizing above and beyond normal processes.
- Operate separate exam rooms for triage of cold and flu patients, including separate doors and rooms for consultations. Provide clear instructions to employees for when and how to use separate areas.
- Set up an educational voicemail message to help employees self-triage based on symptoms and provide communication about next steps to take for further evaluation.
- Maintain privacy practices and HIPAA requirements.
- Alert local and state health agencies if there is a suspected case of COVID-19.
- Identify local testing sites and develop connections for referrals.
- Review and update existing procedures and be flexible and adaptable to CDC changes or changes based on events in their surrounding area.
For plan sponsors with an on-site clinic, there are new ways the clinic vendor can provide valuable resources during the coronavirus pandemic. Along with staff members, the clinic vendor staff can help:
- Create a centralized taskforce to identify the best emergency preparedness actions.
- Review return to work and sick leave policies.
- Consider how best to support high-risk staff identified through prior interaction with the clinic.
- Formulate a communication strategy for virus update information through company intranet, mailings, email and external website.
- Establish a response team to disseminate information to staff and executives.
An important final step for plan sponsors is to review their clinic contract, since previously agreed upon performance measures may be impacted during this time. Contract language, health metrics and telehealth usage should be reviewed to identify potential liability issues.
View the full on-demand webcast: Coronavirus and On-Site Clinics: What Plan Sponsors Need to Know. The webcast highlights the value of on-site and near-site clinics, and how plan sponsors can ensure their clinic is taking the appropriate steps and precautions to serve members during the coronavirus pandemic. The webcast is free to International Foundation and ISCEBS members.
[Upcoming Webcast: Essential vs Nonessential Care: Helping Employees Access Needed Care During COVID-19 | April 29, 2020]
Coronavirus Resources for Plan Sponsors
- Visit the International Foundation Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources page
- Catch up on the latest COVID-19 and the workplace issues from Word on Benefits
- Tune in to live or on-demand webcasts
How has your organization adapted during the pandemic? Share your story.
Anne Newhouse, CEBS
Information/Research Specialist at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
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