Blog | Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The doctor is in...your office.

Several news articles, including this one in today's Philly Inquirer, have covered a new trend of employers opening in-house medical clinics. Some of the statistics are little iffy (Is it really a "trend" when "29 percent of large employers had an on-site health center or planned to open one by 2009, up from 27 percent in 2006"?) but the discussion of cost-effectiveness is interesting.

Although the sources cite platitudes about the savings of preventive medicine (Iffy statistic #2: "An emphasis on wellness can save money, she said, because 40 percent to 50 percent of health-care costs are related to preventable problems."), the companies who have opened the clinics explain that the actual savings comes from cutting deals with their in-house doctors.

As an MSNBC article explains, Toyota, one of the leaders in this trend, is saving money by reducing "referrals to highly paid specialists, emergency room visits, and the use of costly brand-name drugs." All things which, if they actually are unnecessary, it seems like it would be possible to cut back on without adding the cost and privacy issues of a whole in-house medical establishment.

What do you think? Is the return of the company doc a good thing for patients? For physicians? Would you want to be one?