By David Woods ([email protected])

After selling his travel company – the third largest in the US – to American Express for $6 billion, Hal Rosenbluth could have spent his time fishing, golfing, or globetrotting; instead, he co-founded Take Care Health Systems.

The company, of which he is chairman and cofounder Peter Miller is CEO, is principally dedicated to placing health delivery into the workplace. They call it, as Take Care’s slogan puts it: “a better way to be well.” There are some 7,000 US companies with more than 1,000 employees, and Take Care is working with more than 100 of them.

Bringing healthcare services to the workplace is nothing new: bigger companies traditionally had a medical director, and perhaps some occupational health staff to speed injured workers back to fitness. But Take Care’s Employer Solutions Group, responding to employers’ concerns about rising healthcare costs and a growing shortage of primary care doctors, can bring comprehensive health services to the workplace. “In fact,” says Rosenbluth, “in many instances we bring a full range of care, including vision, dental, imaging, infusion, chronic care, and prevention.” In the town of Gillett , Wyoming , which has three mining companies but no physician, Take Care provides a complete health service.

The emphasis, says Rosenbluth, is on wellbeing – catching health problems before they escalate. For employers, this means reduced costs and a happier and more productive workplace. In fact, the happy workplace concept is central to Hal Rosenbluth’s approach to management. His bestselling book, “The Customer Comes Second,” focuses on how to create a great service organisation by first focusing on your employees.

The whole idea of a strong service ethos – market driven healthcare – is appealing to employers. And it’s what drives Rosenbluth who admits that he knew nothing about healthcare “but my whole life I’ve been in love with service.” Investment banking firms on Wall Street are especially enamoured of Take Care’s 24-hour care that allows brokers to remain “on the floor”. The company has a sales force of consultants who engage in a “corporate conversation” with prospects. Says Rosenbluth: “Corporations are made up of human beings; but all too often we make things more difficult than they need to be. Our concept is a simple one.”

Do physicians see all this as a threat? Well, the American Medical Association’s and the American Academy of Family Physicians’ executives are apparently supportive although some individual physicians may perceive that their turf is being invaded. Yet Take Care’s own doctors, relieved of onerous administrative duties and rising malpractice insurance premiums, seem happy enough. And anyway, how can you be against quality, affordable, comprehensive, and technologically up-to-date care? says Rosenbluth.

Asked about whether continuity of care might be a negative, he says that it’s not an issue “if you believe in electronic medical records and medical homes”. And asked further what he brought to healthcare from the travel industry, he says that it’s about improving the lifestyle of people – making things more convenient and easier by, for example, making airlines compete for business, making all facets of the operation electronic. Similarly, Take Care will negotiate payment and working arrangements with, say, ten cardiologists in a city.

In sum, Hal Rosenbluth wanted to find the biggest unsolved problem in the US and bring a private sector approach to solving it. Take Care seems to be a part of that solution.