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October 01, 2015
Worksite clinics: Good for businesses and employees

Improving employee health is a top business priority these days. It’s also smart business, say consultants, occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals, and business leaders involved in creating and operating worksite health clinics. Keep reading to learn about some of the latest trends surrounding worksite clinics and how they can benefit your company.

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The Alliance®, a nonprofit organization of self-funded employers, provides the following definition: “Onsite clinics offer health services at the workplace, but each clinic varies based on the nature of the employer and the workforce.”

Approaches can include full- or part-time centers that are open on weekdays; physician-led programs where a doctor is on-site 5 days a week and on call nights and weekends; or non-physician-led centers staffed by a nurse, physician's assistant, or nurse practitioner. Clinics offer diverse services, including primary care, physical therapy, counseling, classes, occupational therapy, nutrition, and chiropractic treatment.

Many offer on-site medication/pharmacy services, while others encourage employees to use mail delivery services or order from a pharmacy that delivers prescriptions to the worksite. As for access, beneficiaries of clinics can be limited to employees only or extended to employees’ families and dependents. There is no cost at some sites, while others charge a flat fee. Sometimes this fee applies to all users, while in other cases the fee applies only to those who do not participate in the health plan.

Some members of The Alliance say on-site clinics have reduced their healthcare costs, with one company logging savings of 30 percent in the first year. Another employer expected first-year health plan costs to rise as more employees accessed preventive care but anticipated recouping that investment with reduced costs for chronic conditions or severe medical events in future years due to early intervention.

Other benefits experienced by members include the following:

  • Better management of chronic conditions,
  • Earlier treatment of illnesses or injuries,
  • Fewer emergency room visits,
  • Improved productivity due to a healthier workforce,
  • Reduced absenteeism as employees become healthier and need less time off for health-related appointments,
  • Reinforcement of a wellness culture,
  • Improved retention of employees who appreciate the clinic’s convenience and their employer’s willingness to invest in their health, and
  • Improved ability to recruit new employees.

The global consulting firm Mercer conducted a targeted survey of employers about practices and trends around worksite clinics. Among the key findings:

  • 72 percent of employers whose clinics provide general medical services say managing employee health risk and chronic conditions is an important objective.
  • 85 percent say their organization perceives their clinic as a success.
  • 63 percent say clinics have led to fewer lost workdays.
  • 89 percent say the clinic has helped control chronic conditions.
  • 45 percent of employees used the clinic in 2014.
  • 61 percent of respondents with hourly employees do not require that they clock out of work to visit the clinic.
  • 38 percent provide pharmacy services.
  • 26 percent provide mental health or employee assistance programs (EAPs).
  • 49 percent say their members are allowed to select the clinic as their primary care provider.
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