Fairview Health Services directly targets employers with new wellness program

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Fairview Health Services has launched a program to directly offer wellness programs to employers. (Pixabay)

Fairview Health Services is skipping the insurance middleman and going directly to employers with a new suite of workplace health and wellness programs. 

The Minneapolis-based health system has launched Fairview Employer Solutions, which includes several workplace options including onsite clinics, executive physicals and sleep health services. 

Fairview began to really focus on value-based care about five years ago. While working to establish an accountable care organization, its leaders discovered employers were looking for their own ways to rein in health spending, Rene Coult-Calendine, the system's vice president of market and product development, told FierceHealthcare in an interview. 

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"It became clear from those employers that they needed a different solution to manage health and costs," Coult-Calendine said. 

RELATED: Could employer-based insurance be headed for the unemployment line? 

This follows a larger trend in health care of partnerships between employers and providers, especially large health systems, to reduce costs.  Growing costs in employer-sponsored health coverage have led to much greater employee cost-sharing and the rise of high-deductible health plans

But healthcare futurist Ian Morrison, Ph.D., said employers are realizing they can’t continue to indefinitely shift costs to employees and are instead looking for other strategies to cut down on their healthcare expenses.

A prominent recent example of this kind of partnership is that between Disney and Orlando Health. Disney contracted directly with the Florida health system to provide HMO insurance plans to its some-70,0000 local employees, with Orlando Health taking on greater risk to reduce costs for the corporate giant.

Fairview developed its collection of workplace health services based on those conversations with employers about what they needed, Coult-Calendine said. It also polled its own employees to get a handle on what they expect from workplace wellness programs. The five services available include options for both face-to-face visits and telehealth, she said. 

RELATED: Hospitals must be careful about direct contracting 

Its executive wellness program is designed to fit into the busy schedule of a C-level leader, with just one day set aside for routine tests and a check-up, Coult-Calendine said. She said that program, which was created in conjunction with the University of Minnesota, has required Fairview's team to really dig into what best fits a metropolitan lifestyle. 

"When I look at our set of employer solutions, I'm always thinking about what's going on in the market," Coult-Calendine said. "There are emerging opportunities to help people who may be challenged in the marketplace." 

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