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Survey: Employers planning to expand use of onsite health centers

BY Antoinette Alexander

ARLINGTON, Va. — Recognizing that onsite health facilities can be an integral component of a successful health care program, employers are seeking to expand their use of such centers in the coming years, according to new research by global professional services company Towers Watson.

The Towers Watson 2015 Employer-Sponsored Health Care Centers Survey revealed that nearly four-in-10 (38%) large U.S. employers with onsite health facilities plan to add new centers over the next two years.

A majority of the 120 responding employers that already have onsite or near-site health facilities, or are planning to implement them, share these objectives for their centers: increase productivity (75%), reduce health care costs (74%) and improve convenient employee access to health care services (66%). Nearly all centers also offer a similar range of primary care services. Immunizations (99%), care for acute conditions such as upper respiratory and urinary tract infections (99%), and blood draws (95%) top the list.

“For employers with a critical mass of employees in one or more locations, onsite and near-site health centers can be an integral component of a high-performance health care program,” stated Bruce Hochstadt, senior consultant at Towers Watson. “Encouraged by their experience to date, many employers with these centers believe providing convenient access to health services increases employee productivity by reducing time away from work. What’s more, many are ready to increase their investment.”

Beyond Primary Care Medical Services

By 2018, two-thirds of survey respondents (66%) expect to expand or enhance the already broad services they offer. In addition, employers expect their centers to play an even greater role — above and beyond their current use — in the management and coordination of employee wellness. Wellness programs are already available at 86% of centers, and lifestyle coaching to promote and reinforce behavior changes is currently offered at nearly two-thirds (63%).

Employers have also been expanding the scope of their onsite and near-site health centers beyond primary care. Half of employer-sponsored health centers now offer some type of pharmacy services, a considerable increase from 38% in 2012.

“Pharmacy services interest employers because they offer convenient access to prescription drugs for employees, encourage medication compliance and help decrease overall medical and pharmacy spend,” added Allan Khoury, senior consultant at Towers Watson.

Another interesting finding is the growth in telemedicine. More than one-third (35%) offer telemedicine services, with another 12% planning to in the next two years.

“Telemedicine and onsite health centers are perfect complements,” stated Khoury. “They help employers make it easy for employees and other eligible members to see a doctor and get informed medical expertise — even on evenings and weekends. They also support an overall employer strategy of keeping workers productive and eliminating wasteful costs such as unnecessary emergency room visits.”

Outsourcing to vendors is the most popular option (64%) for managing staffing and services at the health centers. Roughly one-quarter of survey respondents (23%) report that they run the centers themselves, and almost one-fifth (18%) use local or regional provider groups or health systems.

More Employers Are Measuring ROI

Given cost control pressures, more employers are now measuring their centers’ ROI. Seventy-five percent of employers with onsite health centers calculate their ROI, up significantly from 47% in 2012. However, just 12% of employers have the analysis performed by an independent third party; 33% use their vendors, and 30% rely on internal staff analysis, according to the data.

Towers Watson’s experience demonstrates that employer-sponsored health centers’ ROI is highly dependent upon employee utilization and staffing levels, for example, clinics increase preventive care while decreasing emergency department and inpatient use. Members with higher health risk scores are more likely to use the employer-sponsored health center, and using the center to refer them to a preferred network of specialists can lead to substantial cost savings.

Other notable survey findings include:

  • The more the better. Of employers that sponsor onsite or near-site health centers, 40% have two to five centers;
  • Staying power. More than half of employers (56%) have had onsite health centers for over five years; and
  • Accessibility is essential. Many centers offer employees access during extended hours: 55% are open before 8 a.m.; 32% are open after 5 p.m., and 16% are open on weekends.

The Towers Watson 2015 Employer-Sponsored Health Care Centers Survey surveyed mid- to senior-level benefit professionals from 137 U.S. employers in February to March 2015.

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GMDC to unveil new initiatives, repositioning of brand at GM Conference

BY Antoinette Alexander

Patrick Spear

ORLANDO, Fla. — As GMDC’s annual General Merchandise Conference gets underway in Orlando, Fla., spirits are running high as the association will unveil several new initiatives and will celebrate the appointment of Patrick Spear as the new CEO during the event.

“It is an exciting time for us for a lot of reasons. … We’ve got a lot of really exciting things happening here within GMDC. A lot of positive energy,” said Spear, who has served as GMDC president since Nov. 1, during a virtual news conference on Friday.

Dave McConnell, CEO, will transfer his role to Spear during the conference on June 1.

Among the highlights of the event, said Spear, will be the announcement of a more expansive partnership with RetailNet Group.

Through its existing partnership, GMDC currently makes available to its members RetailNet Group’s virtual store tours database, which shows the latest in retail innovations from around the world

Now, through the expanded partnership, GMDC members will have access to the entire RetailNet Group database, which takes a deep-dive into retail analytics with more than 1,800 retailers around the world representing over $7 trillion in combined annual sales, said Spear.

“Our belief is that this is relevant for the GMDC membership because, for the first time, our members … will have access to a market perspective of what’s happening both within the United States and outside of the United States,” said Spear. “Historically, this data has strictly been the purview of large companies, both retailers and manufacturers. But today, in our broadening partnership with RNG, we will make that data available via a very affordable subscription to our entire membership.”

GMDC will also be discussing with members the future vision of the association and its commitment to “retail re-imagined.”

“Today, we are really working on repositioning our brand and, as we think about it, we want to represent what we think of as retail re-imagined and that GMDC, plus a focus on innovation, is going to enable what we think of as a connected environment to create, collaborate and ideally drive commerce for our members,” said Spear. “So, we are really going to be driving that message here at the conference.”

The focus, according to Spear, is largely predicated on the pace of change, or disruption, facing the industry —

• The rise of e-commerce and the “Amazon impact” on the marketplace.
• The shift in consumer habits largely driven by millennials.

“So, what we are really thinking about and focused on is how do we drive consumers into a store today? What can we do and how can we help our members inspire their customers to come in and engage today?” said Spear. “We believe it is predicated on the experience that the retailers offer. Give the shoppers a reason to come in.”

Added Spear, “We are spending a lot of time thinking about that and in our work together with RNG and in our work together with other service solutions companies that belong to GMDC we think there is a great opportunity for us to change the conversation and to inspire a lot of our members to do better, to compete, to give their customers a reason to come into today. So that’s what we are going to spend a lot of time here at the conference talking about.”
 

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Rite Aid targeting net new store growth for the future

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK – Rite Aid is headed toward a full-fledged growth mode, John Standley, Rite Aid chairman and CEO, told analysts at the 2015 Citi Global Consumer Conference Thursday afternoon. The company had opened its first net new store in five years this past March, and Standley promised there would be plenty more net new stores in the chain's future as Rite Aid fills out those markets where it is decidedly understored. 
 
"We have an effort underway to rebuild our real estate pipeline," Standley said, noting that the company will continue to invest in remodels and file buys, "but we're also going to ramp up store relocations … and we're also going to begin opening net new stores as we go forward." 
 
Standley reported that Rite Aid has a number of existing markets where there are fill-in opportunities. "There are a number of markets where we're No. 3 in marketshare, and the reason we're No. 3 is we're No. 3 marketshare in store counts," he said. The idea is if Rite Aid is able to better saturate some of those markets, it's going to raise the performance bar for all of the stores in that market. "Markets where we are No. 1 or No. 2, we are very profitable in," Standley said. "They're very successful markets for us."
 
"Once we work our way through that opportunity, which will take us a couple years, we will begin to look at net new markets over time. But early priorities are relocations and fill-ins where we have some great growth opportunities. I'm pretty excited about ramping up these store growth opportunities," Standley said. 
 
Of course, to ensure the success of those net new stores, Rite Aid will need to fill those stores with patients. And while the company will be turning to traditional means to leverage those new store investments in the form of prescription file buys, Rite Aid has another patient generator that will be put into play when it closes the deal (possibly in the next 60 days) on its acquisition of PBM EnvisionRx. "We … think there is a really exciting opportunity to just organically grow EnvisionRx," Standley said. "Today it does about $5 billion in revenues, but by combining EnvisionRx with the Rite Aid brand, we think it's going to give it much broader national exposure than it has received in the past."
 
That creates a virtuous circle. "As we grow the assett, obviously, Rite Aid should over time gain access to more customers and patients, which is another synergy that pops out of this combination," Standley added.
 
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