Hospitals turn to ACOs, disease management for employees

Hospitals have to manage their healthcare costs like any other employer group, and many are beginning to bring some of the value-based purchasing practices to their workers, according to Crain's Cleveland Business.

For example, the article notes that the University Hospitals system has placed its employees into accountable care organizations after introducing ACOs to its patient base. The Cleveland Clinic has put its employees who have one of six chronic conditions into disease management programs. It also offers employees free membership to Weight Watchers and fitness centers, part of an attempt to remove the psychological barriers from having to initially pay to obtain a healthier lifestyle, Crain's Cleveland reported.

University is going even further, paying employees annual bonuses of as much as $600 if they improve their overall health.

The notion is that the cost shift to employees and less expensive health coverage is not going to keep spending under control over the long-term. And data tends to bear that out: Hospital employees tend to be more obese than the population at large, suggesting that will lead to higher healthcare costs for them down the line.

Despite those moves, many hospitals and hospital systems still have their focus on regulatory and other issues that impact the day-to-day operations of their facilities. "It's an afterthought right now," Mark Terpylak, president of NewHealth Collaborative, the ACO for the Summa Health hospital system, told Crain's Cleveland.

Studies have also suggested that employee wellness programs for hospital workers have had mixed results. The Mayo Clinic, for example, has been able to cut down on employees who smoke, but has had a tougher time reducing the obesity rate.

To learn more:
- read the Crain's Cleveland Business article