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The Doctor is in…the Parking Lot

Mobile clinics offer convenience care benefits to employees, and now include medical, dental, behavioral and even chiropractic

Mobile clinics offer convenience care benefits to employees, and now include medical, dental, behavioral and even chiropractic

By Sherry McAllister, DC

Younger workers now demand the same convenience from their healthcare providers that they have grown to expect from consumer-friendly industries such as travel and retail. This demand for convenience is one of the reasons many companies have opened worksite health clinics. The latest survey results from Mercer showed that 33% of companies with 5,000 or more employees had a worksite clinic in 2017, up from 24% in 2012. Not every company, however, wants the responsibility or liability of a full-time onsite clinic. And not many companies have the space for them either.

Mobile clinics are filling that gap for many employers. Such clinics are not located in a company’s facility, but they still offer convenient care access and less time off the clock. Mobile clinic accessibility could be lumped into a wellness benefit for employees or be included in one of the new “convenience” benefits that more employers are offering.

An ounce of prevention

Convenience benefits, typically errand running or other activities that require time-off, could also be applied to the type of preventive care that tends to be skipped by younger employees, a trend that appears to be worsening. A recent report from Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, in fact, found that Millennials ages 34 through 36 had rates of health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hyperactivity, major depression and five others, higher than their Generation X predecessors when they were those ages.

The mobile clinic benefits for employers are that employees receive needed preventive care, which could include medical, dental, behavioral and even chiropractic, the latter of which can be a significant benefit considering 44% of employers ranked musculoskeletal conditions (back pain) as the top health complaint impacting their costs, while 85% ranked it among the top three conditions. Chiropractic care is associated with reduced absenteeism and lower costs. Since chiropractic care delivers pain relief and improved mobility — without pharmaceuticals — such a mobile clinic can also improve overall employee satisfaction while avoiding the risk of opioid misuse.

Conveniently reducing ‘mod rates’

An example of a mobile health clinic saving time, but also protecting employee health, are mobile mammogram vehicles, typically converted RVs, that visit workplaces to deliver important preventive breast cancer screenings. The mobile mammogram van for the MD Anderson health system in Houston, for example, has served 94,000 women in its region since 1992 targeting both employers and underserved communities. American Airlines even touts mobile mammography as an employee health benefit on its internal website.

A fellow doctor of chiropractic, Jeff Solomon, DC, in Miami, is another example of how mobile clinics are taking off. Dr. Solomon is founder and CEO of Mobile Chiropractic Inc. and delivers care through a customized RV, which includes an x-ray machine, enabling him to deliver care safely and effectively outside numerous prominent locations such as UPS distribution facilities, police stations, government offices and on the street in downtown Miami where office workers stop by on their lunch hour or between meetings.

Whether it is UPS drivers, police officers, correctional workers or executives in downtown Miami, convenient access to chiropractic care is likely decreasing an important expense for many employers, especially those who make significant physical demands on their employees. The company’s workers’ compensation insurance premium rate – specifically their Experience Modification Rate or “mod factor” – is based on the number of claims within the past three years. Reducing that mod factor — even by a tenth of a point — through incurring fewer claims can save a large company hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars a year on their premiums.

A health benefit that delivers

With the low overhead, huge care demand and simplified administration, mobile health clinics may be the best-kept secret in healthcare right now. Such clinics can help reduce costs for employers, but they also enable employees to more easily access the care they need, in less time and typically at a lower cost. More importantly, as all employers know, healthier employees are more productive and more satisfied, which also contributes positively to the bottom line.

About the author:

Sherry McAllister, DC, is executive vice president of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress

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