Mental health services increase ROI for CHG Healthcare

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With a high number of anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse cases plaguing employees at CHG Healthcare's Salt Lake City clinic, Nicole Thurman decided the medical staffing firm needed to hire a mental health counselor.

“We have a young population, so we have an opportunity to help with mental health issues before they turn into substance abuse issues or physical health issues,” says the senior director of talent management. “I look at this as preventative care.”

The staffing firm, which temporarily places physicians in hospitals and clinics, is still in its first year offering mental health counselors to its employees but this benefit has earned $1.73 on every dollar it spends on its Salt Lake City on-site clinic. The ROI was based on claims where high costs claims that cost more than $25,000 were not factored, according to CHG Healthcare.

The mental health counselors are solely available for about 1,300 CHG healthcare employees in the Salt Lake City location. CHG Healthcare plans to roll out the service to 600 employees in the Fort Lauderdale office this January, and is still thinking about its approach for bringing mental health services to locations with fewer than 100 employees. The company started out in Salt Lake City to find doctors and medical professionals for the rural west but it now has four subsidiary companies that all operate under CHG Healthcare. So far, only the Utah-based CHG Healthcare offers this service to its employees.

In conjunction with their onsite health partner, Marathon Health, CHG Healthcare added two counselors to its on-site clinics in November 2016 and said about a third of the 75 visits each month are related to mental health.

“We have a really high stress, high intensity workplace because most of our people are recruiters. They need to make their numbers,” Thurman says. “[The counselors] see a lot of people with anxiety, home and work-life balance problems, depression, marital issues, substance abuse, financial wellness. If we didn’t have our clinic here, [our employees] would go elsewhere.”

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The clinic, managed and staffed by Marathon Health, offers services such as primary care, health coaching, orthopedic injury treatment, pediatric services and women’s health, among a myriad of other services, so it’s impossible for the company to know if an employee is seeking mental health services or treatment for a bad back, Thurman says.

Thurman declined to reveal the cost of the mental health services out of concern that it would deter other employers from offering similar services. However, she says the service is easily scalable.

Originally, the mental health services started out as a referral system, where CHG healthcare leaders could direct their employees. From there, CHG Healthcare has expanded its advertising to fliers, benefit brochures, online communications and physician assistant-led lunch-and-learn sessions, Thurman says.

“There is an undercurrent that happens here,” she says. “It’s all word of mouth. Someone will have a good experience and tell someone else. It’s exciting to me because that stigma is broken down.”

Thurman admits that the company has a good culture built upon trust, which makes a service like mental health counseling more widely used by employees.

“It’s convenient, it’s no cost and it’s high quality,” Thurman says of the benefit that is not charged to the employees. “That’s why it works.”

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