Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Clinic Success Saves More Than $1M for City

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Clinic Success Saves More Than $1M for City

Article excerpt

The City of Charleston saved more than $1 million in healthcare costs since switching to a new clinic provider two years ago. CareHere, which provides on-site healthcare through employers such as municipalities and state governments, manages a clinic for city employees and their family members at 601 Morris St.

Ben Baker, chief operating officer with CareHere, explained during City Council's finance committee meeting on Monday that the Charleston clinic has seen positive results that usually aren't apparent for several years.

"You're actually out in front of all the facilities we operate, he said. "Some things are occurring here that we don't typically see until five or six years of a program - you're already seeing it in two or three years.

In the clinic's first year, 900 city employees or their spouses completed a health risk assessment to give providers a baseline of their general health, which covers conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

"The health risk assessment allows us to uncover brand-new conditions that can be managed before they become a big problem ... and we avoid a huge cost potential, as well, Baker said.

Between August 2014 and December 2015, 45 percent of people who completed the risk assessment saw their health improve.

"I've not seen that elsewhere in the country, Baker said, noting the CareHere manages 200 facilities across the U.S.

Nearly 30 percent of patients maintained their quality of health during the same period.

Baker also noted that the clinic is booked to capacity roughly 97 percent of the time; over the last 18 months, nearly 13,000 appointments have been booked.

"Your employees have adopted and embraced this clinic at a rate that's faster and more progressive than we see elsewhere. It means there's a demand for this, Baker said.

That goes a long way in terms of savings.

The roughly $50 cost of a clinic visit, compared to the market average of about $120 per visit, resulted in a savings of about $910,000 for the city, Baker said. …

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