People cutouts with stethoscope And while 32 percent of employers have adopted different types of health care delivery models over the past three years, 45 percent plan to do so over the next three years. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Employers are trying more ways to bring down costs on high-quality health care for employees, according to Willis Towers Watson’s Health Care Access & Delivery Survey, including centers of excellence, on- or near-site clinics and high-performance networks.

Chief among employer concerns are inadequate employee access to mental health (54 percent) and substance abuse (47 percent) treatment, with 33 percent worried about the lack of general services in rural locations (84 percent of employers have workforce living in rural locations, so it might be a concern that more employers are not taking on this issue).

“Employers understand the key to better care and a healthier workforce is to focus squarely on quality and a better patient experience, supported by provider contracting that aligns with financial incentives,” said Mark Hope, national health plan relations leader at Willis Towers Watson. “To bring about this meaningful change, companies are seeking innovative solutions like care navigation and high-quality, efficient networks. This drive to try new models has the potential to deliver lower costs and, more importantly, make a difference in the lives of their workers and their families.”

Related: Why more employers and insurers are turning to integrated health care

Primary care services are a worry for 29 percent, while 25 percent say that there’s inadequate access to maternity and perinatal services.

And while 32 percent have adopted different types of health care delivery models—whether it be high-performance networks, accountable care organizations or centers of excellence—over the past three years, 45 percent plan to do so over the next three years.

Employers are also looking to expand offerings in onsite services, from concierge, coaching and behavioral health services to yoga, massage and meditation, physical therapy, child care and EAP offerings. More than a third have near-site services in behavioral health counseling and physical therapy, and 38 percent provide a subsidy for offsite fitness centers.

Telehealth is a big factor—or will be, with 95 percent of employers already offering or planning to offer telemedicine for professional consultations by 2020 and 81 percent offering or planning to offer telebehavioral health services by 2020. Just 3 percent plan to offer teledentistry by 2020; as of 2018, none did.

And among employers offering high-performance networks, the top two considerations when choosing which to offer were quality of care (54 percent said it was their primary concern) and cost savings (20 percent said it was their primary concern, compared with 40 percent who said it was the second most important factor). Interestingly, access to care came in third, with 18 percent of employers saying it was their first consideration and 23 percent saying it was the second most important criterion.

“The challenge is more than offering the right network. Rather, it’s to help patients find the right provider at the right time, to render a well-coordinated, highly effective care experience,” Hope said.

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