Insights: Chicago | Business Spotlight | Fall 2017

Improving workplace health with Medcor

Moment of impact : Medcor Strives to improve workplace health through fast clinical intervention

Philip Seeger President & CEO, Medcor Inc.
By Holly Hammersmith

When an employee gets injured at work, it’s often left to the employer and the injured party to decide, “What’s next?”

Yet the pressure to make important health care decisions quickly can lead to poorer health outcomes and higher costs for both individuals and companies.

“Often, the employee and his or her supervisor aren't sure what to do because they’re not clinically trained,” says Curtis Smith, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Medcor Inc., a national provider of outsourced health care services. “Sometimes people overreact and incur services and costs that are unnecessary, or they don't recognize the seriousness of the injury.”

Founded in 1984, Medcor started as a provider of on-site health and wellness clinics, expanding to offer 24/7 telephone triage nurse services and construction health and safety training to companies of all sizes. The company aims to help employees get the care they need while helping employers avoid unnecessary treatments, claims and costs by providing health decision-making support from the moment a workplace injury occurs.

Today, the McHenry, Illinois-based company employs more than 1,000 people and manages roughly 200 on-site health clinics across 35 states and Canada. Its customers include four major movie studios in Hollywood as well as retail, restaurant and distribution businesses such as Target Corp., McDonald’s, Safeway and Walmart, and other industries.

Medcor founder and president
Medcor Co-founder and COO (left) Bennet W. Peterson speaks with Philip Seeger, the company’s president and CEO.
(Photos by Sara Stathas)

Improving outcomes

When co-founders Philip Seeger and Ben Petersen hatched the idea for Medcor, they were working as ambulance paramedics, often responding to calls for medical assistance at manufacturing facilities in the Chicagoland area.

Many of the facilities they visited employed a “plant nurse” to aid workers injured on the job. But without the protocols and medical oversight from a physician, both the on-site nurses and injured employees were placed in a compromising position, explains Seeger, president and CEO of Medcor.

As paramedics, Seeger and Petersen had direct radio communication with the hospital and physicians, along with standing orders and protocols to follow. They saw the opportunity to bring similar protocols, expertise and oversight to the worksite through the introduction of on-site health clinics.

Medcor employees use proprietary protocols and software, developed from evidence-based medicine to quickly evaluate patients on the job site, and then administer proper medical care. Its workforce consists of clinicians, including doctors, nurse practitioners, medics and other health care professionals who are experts in their respective fields.

“As a health care company that doesn’t bill insurance claims, our business doesn’t fit traditional business models.”
—Curtis Smith, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Medcor Inc.

The first Medcor clients, which included Six Flags Great America, soon saw a reduction in their workers' compensation claims after implementing the on-site clinic model, Seeger says. “We were not sending employees unnecessarily to the hospital or to an urgent care or freestanding clinic.”

Medcor mobile clinic trucks
Philip Seeger with Medcor mobile units.
(Photos by Sara Stathas)

Expanding services

Sometimes self-care at the first aid level is all that is needed for an injured employee, Smith says.

“It’s a huge relief to employees who are hurt – and it's a cost savings for the employer,” he says.

After initial success with its on-site clinic model, Medcor expanded its offerings in 1997 to include telehealth services. Many early adopters were retail spaces that wanted to reduce workers’ compensation claims and costs in the stores, but didn’t have enough employees to warrant an on-site clinic.

“Each store was too small to put a clinic in, but retailers collectively represented many more employees and more injuries and potential cost,” Smith says. “They were looking for a solution.”

Word-of-mouth and references from peers helped the company get past some early skepticism to win over retailers, he says. Today, more than 270,000 work sites use Medcor’s telephonic injury triage nursing services, which give companies access to on-demand, 24-hour support from Medcor nursing professionals, who are based out of two Medcor call centers as well as virtual home offices.

Staying nimble

Over more than 30 years, Medcor has evolved alongside many of the changes in the health care industry. And the company’s strong relationship with its bank has been an important part of its growth strategy.

Medcor and its subsidiaries maintain more than 20 accounts, multiple lock boxes, a mortgage and a line of credit with Huntington.

“As a health care company that doesn’t bill insurance claims, our business doesn’t fit traditional business models,” Smith says. “Having a bank that was willing to listen and learn about our economics and our business model and then propose solutions and services that were optimized for us – that made a huge difference for Medcor.”

Aligned with customers

Though more companies now offer similar services to Medcor Inc., one area distinguishes the company, says Curtis Smith, executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

“The vast majority of our competitors have a tie back to traditional medical claims and a potential conflict of interest,” Smith says.

Medcor’s only alignment is with the customer, explains Philip Seeger, president and CEO. “It doesn’t matter to our clinicians whether they recommend that you get care off-site or tell you that you can self-treat.” Growing within verticals such as construction, manufacturing, restaurants and retail also enables the company to add value for customers in all types of industries.

“For example, Medcor has a lot of grocery customers,” Smith says. “They work on very thin margins, so even a slight improvement in their health care costs makes a huge difference.”

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