New study highlights benefits of on-site clinics for school districts

New study highlights benefits of on-site clinics for school districts

Worksite clinics have proven effective for businesses, in reducing healthcare costs and improving productivity. A recent study conducted by the RAND Corporation and published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, demonstrates that on-site clinics are also beneficial to school systems when the healthcare option is provided to teachers by the school district.

In the first study ever to examine the effects of on-site clinics for teachers, RAND initially set out to “examine the impact of worksite clinics on healthcare utilization and cost, self-reported health status, and student achievement growth in a public school district.” Although they were not able to identify any change in student achievement, the study did reveal that the use of on-site clinics reduces healthcare costs for teachers and improves their absenteeism rate.

RAND used “insurance claims, health risk assessment, and student achievement growth data for active teachers during 2007–2015” for the study. In their research, they found that, when compared to teachers’ use of a community-based clinic, “using a worksite clinic was associated with significantly lower inpatient admissions (53 vs. 31 per 1,000 teacher years), annual healthcare cost ($5,043 vs. $4,298 in 2016 US dollars, a difference of $62 per teacher per month), and annual absent work hours (63 vs. 61).”

The study examined healthcare provided for teachers in a large school system, the Metro Nashville Public Schools, that includes 120 schools and approximately 6,000 teachers. Harry Liu, a RAND policy researcher and the study’s senior author, said “Our findings suggest opening onsite health clinics may be one promising action that school organizations can take to help lower their health care costs.”

In the case of the Metro Nashville district, “on-site” was defined as a healthcare clinic that was accessible within a 15-minute drive. Typically, in a business setting, on-site clinics are located on the company’s property. On-site clinics are designed to provide accessible, convenient healthcare, encouraging the use of primary care and preventive services.