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Is An Employer Health Clinic Right For Your Organization?
by Janet Teske, DNP

Workplace clinics are nothing new. Decades ago, industries with high occupational injury rates often employed company doctors and nurses to treat workers on-site. More recently, rising health care costs have prompted employers to offer broader-based primary care for their workforces through employer-based health clinics. They realize that offering their employees easy access to health care can result in a healthier, more productive workforce and reduce overall health care costs.
 
The scope of services offered at an employer clinic typically include:
• Diagnosis and treatment of acute health concerns, including coughs, sore throats, rashes, sinus symptoms and other common medical problems
• Support management of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol
• Routine sports and camp physicals
• Assessment of work-related injuries
• Immunizations and screenings
 
Keeping your employees healthy
Advocate Aurora offers a range of employer services to promote a healthy workplace, including on-site and near-site employee clinics. On-site and near-site health care providers tend to develop strong relationships with employees and can encourage them to take control of their own health. 

Preventive care pays dividends

With convenient access to medical care, employees are encouraged to optimize their health to prevent illness, rather than simply treating it. Preventive visits and screenings encourage employees to be more proactive about their health and wellness.
 
Nurse Practitioners or Physicians Assistants typically staff Aurora’s Employer clinics. The team works closely with employees’ primary care providers. They are trained to:
  • Develop a care plan for each individual
  • Establish medical compliance with treatment protocols
  • Facilitate ongoing monitoring to encourage care adherence and  engagement
  • Provide patient education and accountability
 
An on-site or near-site clinic is a convenient way to help employees manage costly chronic medical conditions. The health care team can help employees better manage these conditions and reduce unnecessary (and expensive) trips to the hospital emergency room.
 
Why establish an employer health clinic?
A Towers Watson survey1 listed the most compelling reasons employers give for establishing an on-site or near-site clinic:
• Enhance worker productivity (62% of respondents)
• Reduce medical costs (57% of respondents)
• Create a center of health to better integrate all health productivity efforts (48% of respondents)
• Improve access to care (46% of respondents)
• Occupational health and safety needs (33% of respondents)
• Improve quality of care (16% of respondents)
 
Key questions for employers
Before establishing an employer clinic, many questions need to be addressed:
• Who will be eligible to use the clinic? (employees only, or family members, too?)
• Will employees be charged for these services? (if so, how much?)
• Which medical services should the clinic offer?
• How should the clinic be staffed and managed?
• How will the costs and benefits of an employer clinic be measured?  
• Where will the clinic be located? (on-site clinics require 750-1,000 sq. ft. of space)
• Should the clinic be a dedicated, on-site facility or in a shared space with other nearby employers?
 
Does size matter?
In general, an employer should have at least 500 employees, concentrated in one area, with easy access to the on-site or near-site clinic location. However, a survey taken by the National Association of Worksite Health Centers2 found that worksite health services aren’t just for very large employers.
• 37% of respondents in the 500-1,000 employee category report having an on-site/near-site clinic.
• 48% of respondents in the under-200 employee category report offering some type worksite health program, including multi-employer facilities, telehealth services and mobile units.
 
One option especially attractive to smaller employers is partnering with an established “near-site” health clinic. For example, Advocate Aurora Health partners with employers to provide medical care for their employees at one of its brick-and-mortar health clinics located near their workplace. This arrangement may include extended clinic hours, priority “same-day” appointment scheduling and other benefits to fit the busy lifestyles of working people.
 
Employers today seek better value for their health care dollars. Most are looking for new ways to slow down the increases in health care costs. A growing number of employers have found that establishing an on-site or near-site health clinic is an effective cost-control strategy that improves both the health and the productivity of their workforce.
 
 
Sources
1. “Employers Plan to Expand Use of On-site Health Centers,” Towers Watson, May 28, 2015.
2. “Results of 2014 National Survey of On-site Clinic Operations and Policies,” National Association of Worksite Health Centers, Dec. 2014.
 
Janet Teske, DNP, is Advocate Aurora’s Director of Retail Clinics, Employer Clinics & Wellness.
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