Rising healthcare expenditures are forcing self-insured employers to continually look for ways to reduce costs. Actively talking to local employers and exploring mutually beneficial arrangements can be a great first step to driving their volume to your physicians and hospital. Conversely, ignoring these relationships can make you vulnerable to losing their volume to a more aggressive competitor.

Many of the organizations HSG works with are hesitant about approaching employers without having some type of “product” in hand that offers a comprehensive solution to addressing rising costs, absenteeism, and the long-term health of their employee base. However, we’ve found that having a product isn’t a necessity. Most employers feel powerless to control many of the issues related to employee health and health benefits and are thrilled when a healthcare organization offers assistance with tackling these challenges.

Here are three simple steps almost any hospital can take to begin developing relationships with the self-insured employers in their service area:

Leverage your primary care physicians’ expertise by conscripting them as “advisors” to the employer. An insightful primary care physician helps employers better understand healthcare cost drivers, particularly in the arena of chronic disease, and ultimately recommends effective changes to benefit design.

Get employees access to primary care offices and establish relationships with those PCPs. With many hospitals having employed or mostly-employed primary care physician offices, putting together a coordinated strategy for giving access to key employers should be simple. This is especially important for employees with chronic diseases. Many organizations have created “priority slots” for key employers, allowing their employees to walk-in or call ahead and be seen right away to head off complications and get them back to work quickly.

For larger employers, explore placing a full or part-time nurse practitioner on-site. The advantage to the employer is less lost work time, while giving the hospital providing the service the ability to steer employees who need physician referrals or ancillary testing to their organization. Many hospitals manage these arrangements internally, while others prefer to partner with third-party providers.

While your relationship can grow and evolve to include direct contracting or an exclusive network product in the future, these initial steps will allow you to begin building liaisons that will grow your commercial volume.

Travis Ansel

Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Strategy