Reports that Amazon is planning to open a primary care clinic in its Seattle headquarters are neither entirely surprising nor would it be the first big company to offer healthcare on premises. Boeing and Disney do it. John Deere, too. Most recently, Henry Ford Health System and automotive giant GM announced plans for direct employer-contracted healthcare.
To be sure, as costs continue to rise and quality stagnates, employers footing the hefty bill for their employees health benefits are looking for ways to make sure managing employee health doesn’t kill their business.
Should the company create clinics, however, many people will be watching closely because of the company’s potential for shaking things up.
“Amazon has established itself right now as disruptor 2.0,” said Paul Keckley, president of the Keckley Group, a healthcare advisory firm. “It has a take-no-prisoners approach to taking costs out of the systems. In 1.0, there were a lot of innovators doing different things. What Amazon does is say ‘we’re going to take this to scale.'”
Keckley said depending on what survey you read, an employee clinic can save $2,000 a year per employee if it is well-utilized. Employers are already paying skyrocketing healthcare costs for other providers in their respective markets, so why not do something semi-radical and try and head some of that off at the pass by providing a healthcare solution in-house, increasing access to care and the likelihood an employee will use it to reduce more costly episodes of care.
Although Amazon’s plans are little more than speculation at this point, on-site clinics and arrangements like the one GM and Henry Ford Health just struck set the stage for employers to make more demands of healthcare delivery organizations for market-based solutions, according to Rita Numerof, healthcare industry expert and founder of Numerof and Associates.
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