Onsite 2.0: Part 2: The Changing Role of Onsite Clinics

Related topics: Onsite Healthcare
May 9, 2016

Onsite 2.0: Part 2: The Changing Role of Onsite Clinics

Onsite clinics have had an ever-changing role since the beginning of their history, discussed in the previous article, The History of Onsite Clinics. Now let's look at the roles onsite clinics have played and the benefits driving renewed interest from employers.

Focus Shifting From Occupational Health to Cost Savings

Occupational health and safety has become a lesser concern for employers considering onsite clinics. By far, the top current motivator for launching and expanding workplace health services is healthcare claims cost reduction. A 2015 Mercer survey on employer sponsored health plans showed that 91 percent of respondents rated controlling healthcare spending as a key objective of their onsite clinic program.

Employee productivity is the second most important driver in the decision to operate an onsite clinic; however, the emphasis has shifted from speeding employee recovery from a workplace injury to reducing time away from the job by simplifying access to healthcare services.

With rising healthcare costs driving wage stagnation, employers are looking for other benefits to attract and retain employees. Additionally, labor unions have been shifting negotiations away from wage increases towards measures that will slow healthcare spending and employee cost sharing increases while preserving and improving overall benefits. A study by the online job site, Monster, revealed that healthcare tops all other benefit categories when it comes to employee job acceptance, accounting for one-third of the total decision.

Access to high quality, lower cost onsite care is highly valued by employees and union leaders alike as a way to reduce employee out-of-pocket costs for routine health screenings and drugs. The connection between primary care and cost reduction in these areas is also not lost on employers considering onsite solutions, and expansion of services within and for de novo onsite solutions is now a major evaluation consideration.

To underscore this shift in motivation for operating onsite clinics, Watson Wyatt (a global professional services company now part of Towers Watson) compared the changes in services offered between clinics opened before 2000 and those opened after. The percentage of centers offering occupational health and safety services dropped from 75 to 37 percent while non-occupational service offerings increased dramatically.

These non-occupational service offerings have expanded to include all or some combinations of the following services: full-service primary care, telehealth capabilities, physical therapy, fitness resources, coordination with existing wellness and EAP programs, pharmacy and lab, among others. 

A 2014 study conducted by the National Association of Worksite Health Centers found that most current clinics are driving savings across a wide variety of measures from reduced time off for medical visits to reduced hospital admissions; however, the dominant onsite clinic model has limitations that cap these financial benefits.

To learn more about onsite clinics, download the whitepaper, Onsite Clinics 2.0.

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