“I’ve seen clinic operators brag about a 30% participation rate. But when the City of Kirkland opened, we had an engagement rate of 90%.” — Keith Robertson, V.P./Corporate Benefits Consultant at Alliant Insurance Services

Getting people to use an on-site clinic is the first step toward improving health outcomes. It’s also the key to reducing costs, because healthier people cost less. As engagement increases, costs decrease. When the City of Kirkland launched their clinic in 2015, they focused on maximizing initial engagement through months of thorough preparation and coordination between city staff and Vera.

The result was an initial engagement rate that was light years ahead of other clinic operators. But the work didn’t stop there. To truly succeed, engagement had to stay high, and it did. Here’s how.

Leadership support lays the groundwork

High engagement started with full support and clear communication from the City of Kirkland’s leadership. Launching a clinic represented a substantial change to employee benefits and the city didn’t want to miss out on engagement because people were confused or hesitant to use the clinic.

The city established multiple opportunities for open dialogue with all stakeholders, including unions, about the benefits of positioning Vera at the center of their benefits strategy.

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Those benefits included reduced costs, improved health, and a simplified benefits program. Once everyone was aligned, Vera and the city partnered to communicate Vera’s benefits at the employee level during the ramp-up to the clinic’s launch.

Vera staff and HR representatives worked together to inform and excite employees about their new clinic’s services, including free primary care and health coaching. Even the clinic’s design was taken into account. Vera and the city wanted to impress employees.

“We made sure they were going to be surprised by what they saw when they walked through the door,” says Robertson.

Generous Incentives Promote Engagement

To help draw employees into the clinic, Vera and the City of Kirkland developed an incentive program around an Annual Whole Health Evaluation.

The evaluation includes a biometric screening, 60-minute appointment with a primary care provider, health assessment, and an introduction session to health coaching. For completing an Annual Whole Health Evaluation, employees received a $600 credit to their HSA accounts. But more importantly, completing the evaluation introduced patients to Vera’s entire range of services.

The bet was that Vera’s services were so impactful that patients would want to continue coming to the clinic for health reasons, rather than just incentives. That bet paid off.

Once inside, time-rich appointments with primary care providers, personalized whole health care plans, and health coaching sessions laid the foundation for the best healthcare experience of their lives. Vera ceased to be just a clinic and became a partner.

Vera’s clinical experience inspired employees to take ownership of their health and continue using the clinic as a regular part of their new, healthier lifestyle. That continued use was evidenced by engagement numbers that remained high, years after the clinic opened.

Whole Health Council Sustains Engagement

After the clinic was launched, Vera and the city continued efforts to maximize engagement through the Whole Health Council. Made up of City of Kirkland staff and employee representatives, the Whole Health Council is a regularly scheduled forum where employees can provide input on clinic services.

When employees on the Whole Health Council informed Vera that clinic hours unintentionally prevented a segment of the city’s population from accessing clinic services, hours were adjusted to ensure that everyone had access. With employee feedback, the clinic adapts to better serve the needs of its patients, and positions Vera as a partner in healthcare.

In Summary: High Engagement at a Glance

Full organizational support and clear communication strategies laid the foundation for high engagement at the City of Kirkland. Once the clinic launched, exceptional clinical experiences and the Whole Health Council sustained that engagement.

After 90% engagement in year one, those high numbers were sustained. Engagement was at 83% after year two and showing no signs of dropping.

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