More employers are turning to onsite health clinics for employee primary care
- One-third of large U.S. employers with 5,000 or more employees offer general medical worksite clinics, up from 24% in 2012, a new Mercer survey found. Mercer, which conducted the survey in collaboration with the National Association of Worksite Health Centers (NAWHC), said results are based on the responses of 121 employers that offer either on-site or near-site clinics. Organizational size among respondents ranged from 150 to over 300,000 employees.
- Mercer researchers observed a growing trend in favor of offering non-occupational or "general medical services" clinics. The growth of occupational health clinics has slowed for employers with more than 5,000 employees, 38% of whom offered general medical clinics in 2017, while fewer employers with 500 to 4,999 employees offer occupational health clinics compared to 2007 figures. And while only 16% of respondents in the latter group currently have a general medical clinic, 8% of respondents said they are considering that option. Eleven percent of employers with over 5,000 employees are considering general medical clinics.
- In other highlights of the study, more than 35% of survey respondents with general medical clinics said their clinic is set up as a "patient-centered medical home," largely for high-risk or chronically ill workers. The increased from 26% of employers saying likewise in 2015. Also, 67% of respondents with general medical clinics allow employees to choose that clinic as their primary care provider, compared to just under half of respondents in 2015.
The results of the survey indicate positive metrics for on-site health clinics, which have emerged as one of several ways by which employers may provide a more controlled, efficient experience for employees in what many experts consider a "broken" system. General health service models allow primary care, lab examinations and even pharmacy operations to be operated under one roof, depending on the model.
Properly administered worksite medical clinics can provide employees with high-quality, low-cost and easily accessible healthcare services. This is relevant given employers' well-documented frustration with rising healthcare costs for care that may not even succeed in delivering successful outcomes. In its analysis of the survey, Mercer cited other healthcare trends, such as increases in worksite medical clinics serving as primary care providers and employers leveraging accountable care organizations (ACOs), performance networks and centers for excellence as indications that employers are taking control of healthcare payment and delivery.
"Employers are becoming more directly involved in shaping the health care market and improving their employees' health," Carly Deer, NAWHC board chair and senior benefits leader at Target, said in a statement. "Properly structured onsite medical facilities can create a foundation of primary care and associated services that can assist moving care upstream, which can help improve outcomes, manage cost and increase productivity."