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Onsite Health Clinics: Exploring the Advantages

oswaldcompanies May 20, 2013

Onsite Health Clinics are not just for the jumbo employers any more.

Anticipating shortages in primary care, and frustrated with the cost and quality of care available, companies of all sizes are taking primary care in-house.

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Employers are also expanding the scope of their clinic services, finding many ways to justify the ROI. As a result, more clinic management vendors are stepping up to fill the need.

The following post outlines the advantages that businesses are realizing from an overall employee benefits perspective.

Types of Onsite Clinics

Onsite health clinics can range from those that provide select occupational services only, to models where employees and their families can receive primary care.

For those with primary care models, the benefits to the employer include more control over quality and costs, with positive impact on productivity. The employees gain medical care that is close by and more personalized.

The search for better primary care was the original intent of employers, like Boeing, who took over by setting up or acquiring control of physician practices near their population centers. Reengineering care delivery through technology and staff extenders, and using the constructs of the patient-centered medical homes, Boeing led the way and gained better care and savings.

Other large employers, like Progressive Insurance, built impressive constellations of primary care clinics for employees and dependents alike. And while some employers included incentives to encourage onsite clinic use, most gain and keep patients through superior customer service and convenience.

More recently, smaller employers are setting up onsite clinics; particularly in manufacturing where investments make sense with as few as 500 employees. In some cases, employers join forces with their neighbors to share the clinic operation and staff.

Onsite Clinic Advantages

The advantages and savings are clear:

  • Better care – Clinics managed by employers or their designees provide care that is based on the best evidence and not driven by revenue. The 20-minute appointment returns and electronic medical records include data, such as employee participation in wellness programming. Staffed by a combination of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, dietitians and even physical therapist, care is efficient and team-based.
  • Effective disease management – Making the connection face-to-face, employees are counseled by clinic staff on diet, exercise, and adherence to medication. Chronically ill patients get the preventive care they need.
  • Formulary and generic savings – With the cost-effective pharmacy formulary easily accessible, compliance is not an issue. Clinics often provide free generic medications on site, increasingly the probability that patients will adhere to prescribed regimens.
  • Network and negotiated discounts – The clinics can direct care to cost-effective providers. Blood work and x-rays are made to preferred providers at a fraction of the cost through negotiated discounts. Specialist referrals to network providers assure quality and cost criteria are met.
  • Routine Health Risk Assessments (HRA) and biometric screens – Rather than a special event, employees and dependents have HRA data as a part of their medical history with lifestyle and treatment recommendations, as appropriate.
  • Wellness integration – Programs like weight management, coaching, nutrition counseling, stress management and exercise can be integrated into the services offered and recommended to employees and their families. This results in improved health reducing both health care and workers compensation costs.
  • Productivity gains – Onsite treatment of migraines, allergies and chronic conditions reduce time off of work for many. Employers with rural facilities see the potential to gain productivity by keeping care close at hand.
  • Workers Compensation savings – Workers Compensation insurance costs can be reduced through care received onsite. Care is better managed and return to work accelerates.
  • Cost-effective occupational health services – Depending on the industry, savings are available when onsite clinics assist in ergonomic evaluations, hearing tests and toxicity screens.
  • Required physicals for less – Whether for executives or dependent sports and school exams, employers spend less when these are done onsite.

Onsite clinics can provide a rare opportunity for win, win, win, and in today’s health care climate, are starting to get a second look by a full range of employers.