South Carolina Blues to launch on-site employer clinics with real-time data sharing

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina (BCBSSC) has forged a partnership with Reston, Va.-based Comprehensive Health Services Inc. (CHS) to offer on-site employer clinics for its large-group customers--with the twist that the Columbia-based health insurer and CHS will have "the ability to share data real-time," says Mike Harris (pictured), BCBSSC's vice president of sales for the large-group market. As a result, members should receive high-quality, cost-effective care, and BCBSSC will have a new tool to employ in total population management.

Worksite clinics have enjoyed a gradual resurgence over the past few years as large employers, including manufacturers, service-based corporations and local government entities have rediscovered the cost-effective role that on-site clinics can play in maintaining or improving employee productivity. BCBSSC wanted to take advantage of this trend for its large-group customers (i.e., employers with 50 or more workers), but didn't want to start a new business delivering on-site clinics. "As an insurance carrier, we are not into that market space, nor do we want to get into that market space," Harris tells FierceHealthPayer.

So BCBSSC interviewed several vendors, selecting CHS based on its data-reporting capabilities and its ability to "support our programs locally and face-to-face," he says. "We were looking at the relationship to help deliver the best education and outcomes in medical care to an employer's population."

BCBSSC delivers multiple wellness and disease management programs to educate its three core member populations: healthy members, members who are in the beginning stages of disease and unstable health, and chronically ill members. "We've learned that we need to be able to adjust our message to all three of those populations and provide different ways of communication," says Harris.

BCBSSC has a wide array of communication options. In addition to standard telephonic and email communication, the company has started to offer website and phone-based applications and is looking at adding a texting communication capacity in the near future. "But what we are lacking is the ability to deliver face-to-face education," says Harris. "And the on-site clinics can give us that capability."

Employers can choose different clinic setups. For example, the clinic can be managed by an on-site physician or a nurse practitioner; it can be open on a limited schedule or provide full access; and it can be employee-only or for total members. Employers also can select the services to be provided (e.g., occupational therapy, simple acute care, etc.). The constant will be the "real-time integration of communication and sharing of data," says Harris.

With the members' and employer's consent, BCBSSC will be able to share each member's medical history with the clinic, allowing the on-site physician or nurse practitioner to "spend more time helping the patient with the condition they have come to the clinic for vs. trying to understand the patient's history," says Harris.

"We see this as an excellent opportunity to push information to the on-site clinic--and also to have information come back into Blue Cross," he adds. "For example, the patient may have a first encounter at the on-site clinic where they determine that the patient is a diabetic. The clinic then can say to the patient, 'Your employer has purchased programs through Blue Cross to educate you on your health condition. We encourage you to contact this number, or we will get in touch with Blue Cross and they will call you.' So it's another opportunity to get people engaged in disease and wellness education."

In addition, BCBSSC will be able to target members who already are participating in its health management programs. For example, if a member is in a program to manage his insulin intake and his BCBSSC coach sees that he has gone X number of days without filling his insulin prescription, the coach will reach out to that member. However, sometimes the coach can't make contact. "With the on-site clinic capabilities, we can reach out to the clinic. The patient then can have a face-to-face conversation with the physician or the nurse practitioner to help eliminate those potential future high dollar claims because someone is not compliant or maybe not fully understanding their disease state," says Harris.

Since announcing the partnership in early June, BCBSSC has "gotten a lot of traction," says Harris.  "We've already had several joint meetings with CHS and large employers in South Carolina."

To learn more:
- read the BCBSSC press release

CHART: Which employers are building on-site clinics?

Here's a small sampling of employers nationwide that this year have opened or plan to open on-site clinics for employees (and often for their dependents as well):

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