MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- For thousands of employees at Milwaukee-area companies, visiting a doctor doesn't require missing a day of work. That's because the doctor is just down the hall!
For a long time now, Mar Haverkampf has been living with diabetes and asthma -- conditions that require regular visits to the doctor.
There are two things about a recent consultation between Haverkampf and Dr. Ann Bartos Merkow that may seem alien to most Americans -- even those with premium health plans.
One is the amount of time Haverkampf will spend with the doctor. It is not unusual for these medical chats to last up to an hour. And the second is the fact that to visit the doctor, Haverkampf didn't even have to leave her workplace!
That's because her physician is literally the doctor down the hall.
Quad/Graphics employees have had the opportunity to visit an on-site doctor for almost 22 years now. This, via QuadMedical or QuadMed -- an on-site, fully-staffed medical facility.
Joel Quadracci is Quad/Graphics chairman and CEO. While many Americans entered a New Year wondering where their medical coverage would be coming from, his employees did not.
Quad/Graphic's model of providing on-site extensive healthcare is one being looked at more and more as the Affordable Care Act eases into reality -- and Quadracci will preach its success to any of his counterparts who will listen.
"When my father started this, he said 'let's go back to the 50s, when companies did that. They had their doctors and clinics.' Having QuadMed, having your own medical practice with your employees being able to influence things like wellness programs and being connected to a primary base -- it became a competitive advantage for a printing company. Our cost went dropping and our employee morale went up,'" Joel Quadracci said.
But Quad/Graphics' emphasis on workers' health goes beyond treating those already ill. There is a dominant "get healthy" vibe, which is why treadmills and weight rooms are as busy as the printing presses at Quad/Graphics.
"It's the total engagement of the employee with the doctor. If you're not going to think about wellness, then you're back to the old cycle of 'let's just see you when you're broken,'" Quadracci said.
For those of us who have to leave work to see a doctor or get a workout in, the concept can still be a tad alien.
"They almost can't grasp it. I think you almost have to be living it to know how convenient it is. There's some envy to this way of doing things," Quadracci said.
It is this way of doing things that attracted Dr. Merko to QuadMed. Her previous practice put too much emphasis on the number of patients seen, versus the quality of time spent with those patients.
"Instead, it's about listening to your patient, spending time with your patients so they can be as healthy and happy as possible. And oh, by the way, that saves a lot of money, because that keeps them out of unnecessary hospitalization," Dr. Merko said.
Employees aren't required to use the services offered through QuadMed, but the majority of employees opt to do so.
What started as a good idea at Quad/Graphics has spread to other Milwaukee companies - including MillerCoors and Briggs & Stratton.
Additionally, QuadMed now runs clinics in 17 other states.
Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson says he expects to see more companies coming up with similar plans soon.
CLICK HERE to learn more about QuadMed.
CLICK HERE to learn more about Quad/Graphics.