Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Employers look to expand onsite health centers services

A significant number of U.S. employers with onsite health centers are planning to expand the scope of services offered, as well as the audiences eligible to use the centers, in the next 12 months, according to a survey by benefits consultant, Towers Watson. This expansion is expected to occur as pressure continues to remains strong to keep workers healthy, productive and on the job.

The 2012 Onsite Health Center Survey looks at 74 large employers that have established or are planning to establish onsite health facilities. Services offered at onsite centers can include onsite coaching, immunizations, biometric screenings, physical therapy, pharmacy and other medical services. According to the survey, most companies (62 percent) establish or keep their centers open to gain improvements in employee productivity that come from eliminating visits to offsite medical providers. Other factors for establishing a center include cost reduction (57 percent) and improved access to care (46 percent).
What services are offered. According to Towers Watson, currently, a majority of onsite health centers offer biometric screenings (81 percent), wellness counseling (73 percent), urgent care and first-responder services (70 percent each), and primary care services (63 percent). However, many companies plan to add new capabilities in 2013. Most notably, 28 percent of employers plan to add telemedicine, up from 8 percent that currently offer the service. In addition, 8 percent plan to add primary care services (63 percent currently offer); 6 percent plan to add full onsite pharmacies (24 percent currently offer), and 6 percent plan to add physical therapy (up from 41 percent currently offer).
"Employers believe onsite health centers can effectively address the key needs of increasing productivity, controlling costs and improving employee health," said Greg Mansur, senior consultant at Towers Watson. "It's important to note that onsite health centers will not be a fit for all companies. However, many of those companies that have embraced them believe they can pay even greater dividends in the future. Specifically, these employers are planning to offer new services and expand the audiences that can use them."
Who can use the onsite centers? Currently, over one-third (36 percent) of employers with onsite health centers allow spouses and children of employees to use their centers. Within 12 months, those numbers are expected to jump, Towers Watson says. An additional 13 percent are planning to allow spouses to use the centers, and another 11 percent are planning to allow children. More employers are also planning to allow former employees on COBRA, as well as temporary and contract employees, to use their centers.
"Treating covered dependents can provide as much value to an organization as treating an employee," said Patti Friedman, senior consultant at Towers Watson. "In fact, when evaluating the expected costs and savings of implementing an onsite health center, more use tends to translate into higher returns."
Other findings. Although employers and employees alike view the onsite health centers positively, Towers Watson found that only 38 percent of employers believe their onsite health centers generate a positive return on investment (ROI), compared with 9 percent that do not. The remaining 53 percent either don't know or don't track the ROI. Those that measure use lost time as the most common factor to make their calculations (74 percent).

Further, more than three-quarters of respondents do not expect their centers' service offerings to change due to health care reform. However, 30 percent expect the use of their centers to increase due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), while 34 percent do not expect an increase, and 36 percent are unsure about the effect of the ACA on their onsite health centers.


Post a Comment