Onsite Clinics: Centers of Excellence Drive Improved Well-Being and Productivity
By Tori Weeks, MA
Unum Workforce Solutions Group
By Stephanie Willett, MS
Unum Workforce Solutions Group
Onsite and near-site health clinics have steadily gained ground in recent years, increasing employee convenience and productivity, and at nearly the same cost as typical health plans. Is a clinic in your company’s future? Several factors may drive that decision.
The economics of onsite health clinics are strongest for firms with large employee populations on a campus worksite. In a 2017 survey of 148 large employers by the National Business Group on Health (NBGH),1 54% of the employers will offer onsite or near-site health centers in 2018 and that number could increase to nearly 66% by 2020.
Even if an employer lacks the conditions to fund an onsite clinic, an alliance with a healthcare organization might make a near-site clinic possible, securing many advantages.
The most compelling case for onsite or near-site clinics appears in the area of employee lost work days. According to the 2015 EMPAQ Insights Survey,2 employers offering onsite clinic access to 100% of their employees reported an average of less than five lost workdays per employee in 2014, while employers without clinics reported more than 20 lost days per employee.
Onsite clinics may focus on a single program, or offer multiple programs and medical providers. Unum has several large employer clients with successful onsite clinics. They are continuing their historic focus of employee health education, but are adding new features: integration with wellness programs, monetary incentives to reward employee wellness participation, and telehealth to provide convenient access to medical centers of excellence.
Telehealth involves complex legal issues; not all telehealth functions are available in all situations. Nonetheless, 96% of the large employers in the NBGH survey are planning to offer it in 2018. Employers are on a large learning curve with telehealth, since employee utilization of this service has reached or exceeded 8% in just under 20% of employers in the survey. Onsite clinics may provide the best environment to help employees use telehealth to connect with excellent healthcare, and fine-tune the program to produce high employee satisfaction.
Onsite clinics may not produce immediate or easily-identified medical cost savings. In the EMPAQ survey, the average group health cost per covered employee with an onsite clinic was $10,277, and the average cost without an onsite clinic was $10,239.
Yet long-term medical cost savings could result through earlier interventions, improved management of chronic conditions. or other health strategies. To identify all savings — medical, disability, or others — all vendors would need to align with program metrics so that all data can be combined to build a robust, detailed return on investment (ROI) model.
According to a 2014 survey of 255 employers by the National Association of Workplace Health Clinics (NAWHC),3 participants reported their clinics helped them at least partially achieve key objectives:
- 94% said their clinics helped to improve employee health
- 96% found increased employee engagement with their workplace health programming
- 97% said their clinic contributed to their goal of increasing employee satisfaction
- 95% said their clinic contributed to their goal of increased productivity.
Large employers are adding new onsite clinics, expanding their wellness functions, and using telehealth to access medical centers of excellence. Consider the advantages for your organization!
- A summary of findings from the NBGH’s Large Employers’ 2018 Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey can be retrieved from https://www.businessgrouphealth.org/news/nbgh-news/press-releases/press-release-details/?ID=334
- The 2015 EMPAQ Insights Survey report can be retrieved from https://truvenhealth.com/Portals/0/Assets/HealthInsights/EMPAQ_Report2015_FINAL1.pdf
- The NAWHC 2014 Survey of Onsite Clinic Operations and Policies can be retrieved from http://bit.ly/2ylRVf0.