Onsite Clinics Are a Key Component to a Successful Health Benefits Strategy
Clinic sponsors experience reduced costs, improved employee health, productivity and engagement
CHICAGO – Jan. 6, 2015 – Employers are increasingly finding the use of onsite and near-site clinics as a successful strategy in controlling health care costs, enabling easy access to medical services, improving employee health, enhancing engagement in worksite programs – and ultimately increasing productivity, according to a survey of 255 employers by the non-profit National Association of Worksite Health Centers (NAWHC), with support from PwC US. NAWHC conducts an annual survey of employer sponsors of onsite clinics to enable them to benchmark their operations and policies.
“Especially in light of health care reform, onsite clinics are increasingly being recognized by employers of all sizes as a valuable benefit to reduce costs and absenteeism, while serving as the hub to integrate all worksite programs, and increase employee health and satisfaction,” said Larry Boress, NAWHC executive director. “Onsite clinics are not just for jumbo employers. We found an increasing number of employers of all sizes are running these themselves or finding willing partners among local providers and vendors.”
According to NAWHC and other industry research, the greatest return for clinic value is among employers who experience high emergency room use for non-emergency conditions, show high levels of lost time from unscheduled medical issues, or have covered populations that show low utilization of existing primary care, preventive screenings or condition management programs and services.
NAWHC survey findings:
- A majority of respondents of all sizes said the financial objectives for their onsite clinics are being met, with 64% seeing a reduction in medical care costs, almost 70% realizing reduced time lost by employees leaving work to see outside medical providers, and 63% had reduced use of the emergency room.
- Employers offering clinics are seeing enhanced integration of health management services, higher employee engagement in health management programs, and increased effectiveness of health promotion efforts.
- While most employers do not charge for clinic services, many are unaware of the need to charge employees with Health Savings Accounts a fee reflective of market prices.
- Over a third of employers with clinics do not consider their onsite clinics as part of their benefits plan, and there is uncertainty in how to value a clinic for purposes of the ACA’s excise tax computations
- Telemedicine is an emerging trend for many using onsite clinics, especially in the areas of acute care, wellness and behavioral health.
- Acute care, emergency or first aid, preventive and wellness are among the top services offered at employer clinics.
- Over 30% of onsite clinics now provide primary care services and this number is expected to grow in the future.
- Nurse practitioners/RNs and physician assistants are the main providers for these clinics.
- Over 35% of employers self-manage their clinics and do not contract with a vendor or provider to operate the facility or hire providers.
- While most employers contract with third-party vendors to manage their clinics, an increasing number of employers are finding partners among local physician groups and hospitals.
- Lessons learned in developing clinics included the need to promote a clinic’s confidentiality and privacy; having providers who relate to and understand the workplace and its culture; offering services for free or lower than outside services; using vendors with state-of-the art ROI tools; ensuring clinic activities are integrated with all wellness programs and vendors; and offering easy access to clinic.
The survey included employers throughout the U.S. Of the 255 respondents, 75% said they offered some form of worksite health program or providers are their locations, while 43% indicated that they have an onsite or near-site clinic. Among the responding employers, 8.34% said they had less than 500 employers, 11.67% indicated 501-5,000, 27.5% 5,001-10,000, 20% 10,000-25,000, and 15.83% had more than 25,000 employees. Respondents represented a variety of industries including manufacturing (30%), financial services (12%), health care services (12%), government (8%) and technology (5%).
An executive summary of the survey can be found here.
The Chicago-based National Association of Worksite Health Centers (NAWHC) is the nation’s only non-profit, trade organization focused on assisting public and private employers, unions and other sponsors of worksite health programs in getting the greatest return from their onsite health centers, onsite pharmacies, worksite fitness and wellness centers. NAWHC was founded in 2011 by the Midwest Business Group on Health in cooperation with The La Penna Group.