Springfield surgical hospital, pharmacies team on new wellness program

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By the numbers

250: Employees at the Ohio Valley Surgical Hospital.

$1 million: Money spent by the surgical hospital on health insurance coverage for its employees.

6: Number of local pharmacies participating in wellness initiative.

A downtown hospital and several Clark County pharmacies have teamed up to provide better health-care coverage for workers and reduce costs for employers — a first-of-its-kind partnership in Springfield and a model they believe can be used at other local businesses.

The Ohio Valley Surgical Hospital, 100 W. Main St., has partnered with six local pharmacies and Cedarville University School of Pharmacy to provide a wellness accountability program for its 250 employees.

In light of recent declining health rankings in both Springfield and Clark County, Ohio Valley CEO Steve Eisentrager hopes other local employers will participate in similar programs.

“We’d rather have them spend money on hiring people and adding jobs,” Eisentrager said. “We just see so much money wasted in health care. It would be nice for those dollars to go to hiring people for jobs versus unnecessary services and things like that.”

As part of the program, surgical hospital employees will be provided assistance from local pharmacists in battling diabetes or other health problems, in conjunction with doctors.

The hospital spends more than $1 million per year on health insurance costs through a self-funded health care plan, Eisentrager said.

Similar pharmacy partnerships have worked at other businesses outside of Springfield, he said, saving those companies significant money and keeping employees out of the hospital with help from a pharmacy coach.

“Health care is becoming so expensive and so out of control, it’s refreshing to have simple solutions that are making a difference,” Eisentrager said. “It’s definitely nice to have a simple model we know has worked in other communities.”

The plan was formulated by Cedarville University professor Dr. Marc Sweeney and several Cedarville University pharmacy students. Madison Avenue Pharmacy, Harding Road Pharmacy, three Whitacre’s Pharmacy locations and South Charleston Pharmacy will participate in the pilot program.

“It’s an opportunity (for the patient) to re-engage the pharmacist for accountability on are they taking medications correctly,” Sweeney said. “It’s a 360 approach for improving health care using the touch point of the pharmacy.”

Pharmacists will use a Kindle tablet at each location to gather information on Ohio Valley employees using a new app, Profero Rx Aide, allowing them to create a specific plan for each patient, especially those with diabetes.

The program will allow pharmacists to use their clinical knowledge, said Madison Avenue Pharmacy owner Eric Juergens. Many pharmacy students typically go to school between six and eight years, he said.

“They’re getting a lot of clinical training that a lot of programs like this will bring out,” Juergens said. “It’s not simply just filling out prescriptions, but taking care of people as well.”

The program can also be customized to battle different diseases, he said.

The pharmacies will also be able to perform lab work, said Amanda Martin, the director of human resources for the surgical hospital. It will lead to better monitoring of medications and more diabetes education. Employees will still have access to physicians, but she said the wellness program is an added benefit.

“It’s a well-thought out program to help manage those disease states,” Martin said.

About 70 percent of employers here use a self-funded health insurance model, Eisentrager said. Rather than paying premiums to a health insurance provider, the company directly pays its insurance for its employees. The largest line item is typically prescription costs, he said.

Very few people may have chronic conditions, Eisentrager said, but the small percentage of employees who do often make up the majority of health care costs.

“(The program) helps manage the drug costs, but more importantly it keeps that person healthy and not finding themselves in a cataclysmic event because they’re not managed,” Eisentrager said.

The challenge of improving Springfield’s health rankings is providing an opportunity to be innovative, Sweeney said.

“Turning something that’s challenging for the community into something really positive is our goal,” he said.

Once the program begins to show positive results, other businesses will move to emulate it, Juergens said.

“Let’s face it, in the new millennium, we’re all about wellness,” he said. “You hear it everywhere. To be a part of that is a good thing. Programs like this will become popular and successful because it will work.”

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