A partnership designed to reduce costs and improve health outcomes.
Like every other large organization, Avon Community School Corporation (ACSC) was facing increasing healthcare costs and concerns about the health and wellness of its employees. As a public entity, the school system also faced the reality that funding was not unlimited, leading to an ongoing struggle to maximize the dollars that go towards educating young people versus the dollars allocated for overhead.
The solution was an innovative collaboration with Hendricks Regional Health that has continued to grow and evolve into a mutually beneficial partnership, an alliance that has been called a model for other school systems.
The first step: an on-site wellness center for busy employees
The relationship began eight years ago with an on-site wellness center for ACSC employees and their dependents. Located right on campus, the wellness center made it much easier for teachers and staff to fit a medical appointment into a busy schedule. The proximity allowed more frequent medical consultations than with a primary care physician, and the clinic physicians and nurses were able to tailor their care on a very personal level. Adding to the convenience: a mail-order prescription delivery service that cut down on the need for pharmacy visits.
The wellness center’s success—which included praise from ACSC employees and a utilization rate of over 65 percent—helped spur discussions on further collaboration between ACSC and Hendricks Regional Health, both to help improve the health of students and staff of the school community and to bend the cost curve toward further economies. According to Dr. Margaret Hoernemann, the school system’s Superintendent, “In our organization, we talk about being ‘ruthlessly efficient’. Our partnership with Hendricks Regional Health has allowed us to manage our healthcare costs in that way.”
Evolving to meet the needs of both staff and students
Since the launch of the on-site wellness center, ACSC and Hendricks Regional Health have expanded their relationship to include virtually every healthcare touch point within the organization, including the following programs and initiatives:
- Hendricks Regional Health providing all athletic trainers
- A Hendricks Regional Health-assigned team physician for the athletic department
- In-class educational aids and supplies, such as high-tech simulated infants for child-care education
- Health and wellness education for students and staff members
- Financial sponsorship of the school’s athletic field and performing arts center
- Management and employment of all ACSC nursing staff to help mitigate healthcare staff shortages
- Continuing education to keep nurses up-to-date on healthcare issues and procedures
- New tiered health plan network option with Anthem utilizing Hendricks Regional Health
The tiered health plan network option, in particular, illustrated how new thinking can produce positive outcomes. The first such network model in Indiana from Anthem, the plan includes the traditional insurance tiers, plus an option for ACSC staff members to enjoy a discounted premium when they select the dedicated Hendricks Regional Health network and other benefits such as a concierge line to help navigate healthcare needs. Dr. Scott Wyndham, Director of Finance and Operations for ACSC, sees it as a noteworthy staff perk, especially for those employees who already have doctors affiliated with Hendricks. “It’s a great way to provide another low-cost health insurance option for our associates,” he says. Hoernemann adds, “The most important metric that I share is that for two years in a row we haven’t had a premium increase on our insurance.”
The flexibility to create programs that can grow with your needs
One-size-fits-all is no longer a practical model in healthcare. Instead, it takes flexibility to build the programs that not only answer current needs, but can grow and improve as conditions change. The evolving partnership between ACSC and Hendricks Regional Health shows what happens when both sides—and other health-related partners—collaborate to create customized solutions designed to help control costs and improve outcomes by giving employees the tools to become more proactive about their health and wellness.
“What has been so great about this relationship is that it continues to grow, it continues to change, and like all good relationships, it gets better,” claims Hoernemann. “This is a growing educational/healthcare partnership that I think is probably improving the health of our community. And Hendricks Regional Health is an organization that we’re proud to be associated with.” Wyndham agrees: “It’s just been a great addition to what we offer to our staff and our students.”