Amazon is considering opening its own primary health care clinics for employees at its Seattle headquarters, CNBC reported on Thursday, becoming the latest in a series of major US companies pursuing innovative approaches to health care outside the traditional group insurance model. Two people familiar with the confidential discussions told CNBC that the company was planning to start with a pilot clinic for a select group of employees later this year, then expand the program in 2019:
Amazon was previously looking to outsource its clinics and brought vendors in to pitch their services. After numerous rounds of discussions, Amazon ultimately decided to develop clinics internally, one of the people said. Providers including Crossover Health and One Medical offer on-site or nearby services for other companies, including those in the technology sector. …
Amazon started its effort by hiring primary care experts, beginning last year with Christine Henningsgaard, who was previously vice president of operations at One Medical. In January, the company brought in Martin Levine from Iora Health, a primary care group with clinics in Seattle.
If Amazon moves ahead with this plan, it will be pursuing a similar path to Apple, which announced earlier this year that it was establishing a network of health clinics for its employees in and around its headquarters in Cupertino, California. To staff this initiative, Apple has since hired a number of employees away from the provider that operates some of its on-site clinics in other locations, along with a variety of wellness professionals and “care navigators” to help guide patients in choosing the appropriate care for their health needs.
Earlier this year, Apple announced that it was establishing a network of clinics near its headquarters in Cupertino, California to provide primary health care services to its employees in Santa Clara County. The AC Wellness program has been on a hiring spree since then, bringing more than 40 health professionals on board, CNBC reports, citing a LinkedIn search. The hires include a number of former employees of Crossover Health, which used to operate Apple’s onsite clinics in the Bay Area and still runs them elsewhere, and which Apple had considered acquiring before deciding to design its own clinics instead. In keeping with the name of the initiative, these early hires indicate that AC Wellness is going to be more than just a medical clinic, suggesting a more holistic focus on wellbeing and helping employees maintain healthy lifestyles:
Most of the team hired so far aren’t doctors. In fact, the hires skew toward wellness professionals like nutritionists, exercise specialists and nurse practitioners. A lot of the hires have a background in alternative or functional medicine and there’s even a “wellness lead” — Jennifer Gibson, a former head of coaching at Vida Health, a health-tech start-up. Gibson, according to her profile, is passionate about things like nutrition, stress management and smoking cessation, which aren’t always offered at primary care practices.
The company has also brought on at least a half dozen “care navigators,” who don’t have medical degrees but do have a background in directing patients to the most appropriate care. In some cases, that might involve a followup conversation with a specialist or a lifestyle change that might alleviate the problem on its own. That could reduce costs as these navigators can better ensure that Apple employees and their dependents aren’t getting unnecessary care.
The Utah-based company CHG Healthcare Services, which provides medical care in rural areas of the western US, regularly ranks on Fortune magazine’s annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. Deseret News reporter Jason Lee highlights the innovative way the company helps its employees manage their mental health, which factors into its high levels of employee satisfaction:
For the past six years, the health care staffing company has offered its employees and family members access to a free on-site health clinic. Over time, the clinic’s providers learned that 3 out of 5 patients were visiting the clinic for issues related to mental health, so the company decided to add mental health counselors to its on-site facility, giving employees access to those services while in the office. …
[Vice president of talent management Nicole] Thurman said providing the mental health clinic is less about the money and more about taking a holistic approach to providing for the overall health and well-being of employees. … She noted the mental health programs are breaking even at an approximate monthly cost of about $8,500.
“We estimate the amount we are spending is what we are saving when people go to our onsite clinic instead of going somewhere else,” Thurman said. “The benefit to our people seems very positive and long-term impact will need to be assessed.”
The holistic approach to employee wellbeing CHG embraces is precisely the best practice our research at CEB, now Gartner, recommends. Our recent work on wellbeing finds that a holistic program covering employees’ physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing has a 33 percent greater impact on engagement than one that covers only physical wellbeing.