Protecting Privacy

This article accompanies Convenient Care.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013
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Maintaining employee confidentiality is a key factor in many companies' decisions to outsource on-site clinic staff and management to third-party suppliers -- a strategy that Mercer's 2012 National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans identified as a "dominant trend" in recent years.

The New York-based consultancy's poll of 131 employers of varying sizes found 57 percent of organizations with on-site clinics turning to an outsourced model of clinic management, in which administration is handled by third-party management companies (38 percent), hospital systems (8 percent) or provider groups (5 percent).

Assuring employee confidentiality has been a priority for Sonoco Products Co. since conversations about opening a clinic began in 2007, says Shirlee Sanderson, manager of employee benefits at the Hartsville, S.C.-based packaging products and services provider.

Maintaining privacy was also a determining factor in the company's decision to partner with Reston, Va.-based CHS Services to manage the facility, which offers preventive screenings, medication compliance and management of health conditions, along with annual wellness visits, tetanus, pneumonia and allergy shots, and other routine healthcare services. 

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"We made a decision that we didn't want to manage the clinic," says Sanderson. "It's human nature for employees to be concerned about the collection of personal health information through health assessments or biometric screenings. And ... we wanted to be clear that visits to [the clinic] and personal health information are protected by the same [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] as their medical claims."


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