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Search - For Businesses, a Healthier Bottom Line

Search Winter 2013

For Businesses, a Healthier Bottom Line

Date: January 1, 2013

Although many people are selling similar services, says Edward Bernacki, “we have reproducible data saying these are the best things you can do.”
Although many people are selling similar services, says Edward Bernacki, “we have reproducible data saying these are the best things you can do.”


A dozen or so years ago, Edward Bernacki, director of the Division of Occupational Medicine, was writing a series of articles on prevention of occupational injuries, with the premise that employers had to get employees to the best physicians for the best outcomes.

By request, Bernacki published one in what he thought was an obscure risk-management journal. But that article sparked the interest of a risk manager at PepsiCo, who called and later visited Bernacki to ask if he could set up an employee wellness center for the company’s bottling facility in Baltimore. It went so well that Bernacki was then asked to design similar programs for their facilities in Orlando, Fla.; Pittsburgh and eventually 37 additional U.S. bottling plants.

Pepsi is just one of many large corporations, including Dean Foods, Hughes Network Systems (a provider of broadband satellite network products) and The Nordham Group (a provider of aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services) now employing Bernacki’s home-grown model of Johns Hopkins On-Site Employee Health and Wellness Centers. The centers, located in nearly 50 sites across 23 states, help companies control employee medical costs by focusing on front-line assessment and treatment of occupational and nonoccupational injuries/illness; delivery of wellness and prevention services; development of local health care strategy; and support of safety initiatives. One of their newest offerings is an employee Web portal through which employees can make appointments at their on-site clinics, learn about company wellness programs or read Hopkins health content on a variety of conditions.

Centers are staffed by nurse practitioners and trained by Bernacki and his team. All patient data is entered into an electronic employee health medical record system, which makes for easy review and management by Baltimore-based Hopkins practitioners, and data mining for improved outcomes.

“We do a lot of research and publish our data,” says Bernacki, “and clients like that we constantly try to innovate new wellness programs.”

Contracting with Hopkins for health services makes sense for Pepsi or other companies that specialize in non-health care products, Bernacki says: “You can get the wrong person heading an employee wellness program, and there’s no way a lay person can judge the quality of a physician.”

In addition, he says, Hopkins has the name-brand power of an academic institution with proven expertise.

Without any formal advertising, the program has experienced 10 percent to 20 percent growth in revenue over the last seven to eight years and now generates some $11 million. Potential clients have discovered the service through word-of-mouth from existing clients, Bernacki says, and in some cases, senior leaders who moved to other companies wanted to adopt the Hopkins model in their new workplace. 

 “We’d like to continue that growth rate,” Bernacki says, “and that should be achievable.” He’s currently working to set up on-site clinics for the corporate offices of PepsiCo in New York and Nestle Corp. in California, among others. 

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