Employers are turning to onsite health centers as a way to keep healthcare costs down and employees healthy. And the clinics are not just for mega-companies, according to an industry association.
Organizations are continually looking for ways to control the increasing cost of healthcare for employees. One tactic that’s becoming popular: the onsite health clinic.
According to the latest benchmarking survey from the National Association of Worksite Health Centers (NAWHC), 75 percent of the 255 U.S. employers surveyed said they offer some form of worksite health program, and 43 percent said they have an onsite or near-site clinic.
Employers are really looking at these clinics for productivity reasons, cost reasons, and just improving the overall health of their employees
Worksite health centers look different depending on the size of the sponsoring organization, said Larry Boress, the association’s executive director. Smaller employers might have a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant come into the office for 10 or 20 hours a week to offer basic primary-care needs. At the other end of the spectrum, larger firms that have a campus—think Google or Apple—might have a 50,000-square-foot facility where employees can get everything from primary care to acute care, vision services, dental services, massage therapy, and prescription services.
“No matter the size of the operation, employers that offer this kind of benefit have essentially the same idea in mind,” Boress said. “How can I give my employees easy and affordable access to healthcare and keep them from having to leave the workplace?”
In previous research, NAWHC found that employees who have to leave the office to do things like pick up a medication, get a flu shot, or take a child to an appointment can be gone up to three to four hours, and there’s a cost associated with travelling to the location and possibly paying a copay. Where onsite health clinics are available, employees can be back on the job in 15 to 20 minutes, and most employers don’t charge for clinic services.
Survey respondents reported seeing other benefits as well: 64 percent saw a reduction in medical care costs, almost 70 percent saw a reduction in time lost by employees related to outside medical care, and 63 percent saw reduced use of the emergency room.
“Employers are really looking at these clinics for productivity reasons, cost reasons, and just improving the overall health of their employees,” said Boress.
The trend, naturally, has had an impact on NAWHC, which didn’t even exist five years ago. Formed by the nonprofit Midwest Business Group on Health, the association brings together employers that sponsor worksite clinics, suppliers, and vendors so they can learn from one another. The recently released survey is just one aspect of that.
“People want to know what their peers are doing. They want to know how they can get more value from the dollars they’re investing in the program, the facility, and the personnel,” Boress said. “Our role as an association is to gather that information for them, offer benchmarking and resources, educate them on the important issues, and provide lessons learned and case studies from other companies. Most groups have nobody to offer them guidance outside of their one contracted vendor. We want to give them the opportunity to see what other groups are doing in their industry and in their local community.”