Thirty-eight percent of large U.S. employers with on-site health facilities plan to add new centers over the next two years, according to the Towers Watson 2015 Employer-Sponsored Health Care Centers Survey. Why? These employers feel that on-site or near-site health centers improve the health and productivity of their employees, the study revealed.
Nearly all of the employers’ on-site health centers offer a similar range of primary care services, Towers Watson found. Immunizations (99%), care for acute conditions such as upper respiratory and urinary tract infections (99%), and blood draws (95%) top the list.
By 2018, 66% of employer respondents expect to expand or enhance the services they offer. What’s more, employers indicated that they see their centers playing an increased role in the management and coordination of employee wellness. Wellness programs are available at 86% of centers, and lifestyle coaching to promote and reinforce behavior changes is offered at 63% of the centers.
Half of employer-sponsored health centers now offer some type of pharmacy services, up from 38% in 2012. “Pharmacy services interest employers because they offer convenient access to prescription drugs for employees, encourage medication compliance and help decrease overall medical and pharmacy spend,” noted Dr. Allan Khoury, senior consultant at Towers Watson.
Meanwhile, 35% of employers polled said they offer telemedicine services, and another 12% plan to do so in the next two years. “Telemedicine and on-site health centers are perfect complements,” according to Khoury. “They help employers make it easy for employees and other eligible members to see a doctor and get informed medical expertise, even on evenings and weekends. They also support an overall employer strategy of keeping workers productive and eliminating wasteful costs such as unnecessary emergency room visits.”
Towers Watson noted that most of the employers surveyed share the following goals for their centers: increase employee productivity (75%), reduce health care costs (74%) and improve convenient employee access to health care services (66%).
Outsourcing to vendors was the most cited option (64%) for managing staffing and services at the health centers. Nearly a quarter of respondents (23%) report that they run the centers themselves, and almost a fifth (18%) use local or regional provider groups or health systems.
“For employers with a critical mass of employees in one or more locations, on-site and near-site health centers can be an integral component of a high-performance health care program,” stated Dr. Bruce Hochstadt, senior consultant at Towers Watson. “Encouraged by their experience to date, many employers with these centers believe providing convenient access to health services increases employee productivity by reducing time away from work. What’s more, many are ready to increase their investment.”