Monday, May 21, 2012

Utah doctors are making house calls — at work

When Futura Industries announced its plan for curbing health costs Jeanette Frandsen was skeptical. Today, she’s a living testament to the benefits of the latest trend in workplace wellness, the on-site medical clinic.

Were it not for a routine trip to Futura’s clinic in 2011, Frandsen might have put off her mammogram for another year, oblivious to the cancer growing in her right breast. Instead, she caught it early and was able to treat it surgically, sparing her the cost and painful side effects of radiation and chemotherapy.

The company doctor is on the march. Such practices dissolved mid-century, resurfacing in the ‘80s mostly to treat on-the-job injuries.

Now employers are staffing full-service clinics focused on wellness and prevention. And they’re popping up in settings as diverse as Clearfield-based Futura, a mid-sized aluminum extractor, Utah furniture retailer R.C. Willey and municipalities like Sandy city.

Convenient and low-priced, the clinics keep workers healthy and productive, say proponents. They also profit employers by providing care at a fraction of the cost charged by traditional family practices, specialists and hospital emergency rooms.

It won’t fix all that ails the nation’s bloated health system. But even skeptics, who worry about substandard care and employers having access to medical information that prejudices them against workers, say it holds promise.