This article was written by Deanna Cuadra and originally appeared in Employee Benefits News. Continue reading, or visit this link to learn more.

A new benefits partnership helps employees prioritize preventative care

Most people turn to a primary care physician when they’re feeling sick. But what about when they’re healthy?

While it’s commonly recommended that people under 50-years-old see a primary care physician every three years and those over 50 see their physician once a year, doctor visits may be the furthest thing from an employee’s mind if they deem themselves healthy. But this disconnection from care can lead to some serious medical consequences.

A study published in BMC Primary Care found that one primary care visit per year led to a 127% increase in vaccinations, 122% in colonoscopy and 75% increase in mammograms. The study notes that these care interventions not only improve long-term health outcomes but decrease healthcare costs. So, how can employees have a better relationship with primary care and prevention?

Healthcare companies Crossover Health and Matrix Clinical Solutions are attempting to answer that query by teaming up to connect workers with a joint primary care and occupational health services solution. This employer-provided benefit includes access to Crossover’s primary care model through Matrix’s onsite services, such as vaccine deployment and health screening.

“Matrix and Crossover have a very proactive approach to care — we believe the best way to deliver the best health is through prevention,” says Dr. Stephen Ezeji-Okoye, chief medical officer at Crossover. “By coming together, we represent the opportunity for employees to work with an occupational health provider and primary care provider to determine what services they need.”

For example, if an employee is receiving a vaccine at their workplace through Matrix’s providers, that provider may take their blood pressure and discover it’s elevated. The occupational health provider can then direct the employee to Crossover’s primary care team so the employee can receive hypertension management if needed, whether online or at a Crossover health center.

“Essentially, the occupational health provider can make a warm handoff to Crossover’s team, making the care system much easier to navigate for the employee,” says Dr. Ezeji-Okoye. “It’s a seamless blend of services that allows care to actually happen.”

This partnership also allows care to come to the employee. It’s much easier for workers to access health screenings and testing at their workplace, rather than making an appointment with a physician. In fact, the workplace could serve as the gateway to an employee’s healthcare journey — a journey that should start with primary care, explains Dr. Ezeji-Okoye.

However, Dr. Ezeji-Okoye notes that Crossover’s primary care model isn’t just a one-and-done check-up every three years. Instead, Crossover provides every patient with a care team, including a doctor, nurse, physical therapist, mental health therapist and health coach. In turn, this team creates a treatment plan that focuses on the patient’s concerns as well as their health goals.

“We are looking at the whole person and working to improve their overall well-being,” Dr. Ezeji-Okoye says. “A patient not being sick is not good enough for us. We are striving for something higher.”

For Dr. Ezeji-Okoye, it’s crucial that healthcare go beyond the biomedical perspective, even though doctors are reimbursed for providing procedures and treatments, such as antibiotics or surgery — actions that do not always factor in psychological or social challenges that hinders a patient’s health.

“Unfortunately, because of the way our health system is configured, you are not necessarily paid for understanding a patient’s goals, discussing social determinants of health or doing preventative care,” he says. “So, your doctor visits are short and pointed, and these larger discussions about improving someone’s health or changing their behavior are not always rewarded.”

Crossover wanted to provide primary care teams who can holistically help the patient in-person and virtually. Meanwhile, Matrix’s occupational health services can alert employees early on if they should seek care or better manage an existing condition. This also benefits the employer since workers will be more inclined to get care, rather than waiting for their condition to worsen, leading to a drop in productivity, Dr. Ezeji-Okoye explains.

“We are simplifying the employer health benefits landscape,” he says. “We will help the patient navigate more than just the primary care and occupational health system. It’s about navigating them at the right time and to right place to meet their health and wellness goals.”