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How to evaluate an onsite clinic

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An employer searching for healthcare options for employees may consider providing an onsite clinic as a benefit. There are many factors involved in determining whether an onsite clinic is the right fit for the employer and its employees, however. There are proven rewards for both when an employer provides onsite healthcare for its employees, but there are also a number of challenges and concerns. Evaluating a potential onsite clinic involves several factors.

One of the more positive aspects of onsite clinics is the fact that it provides convenient access to primary care services and to treatment of minor injury or illness. Employees can visit the physician without taking an entire day off from work, since the healthcare clinic is located on the employer’s campus. This convenience also serves to encourage employees to get their immunizations and other preventive services that would have taken too much time otherwise.

For the employer, the convenience of an onsite clinic helps to improve employees’ productivity, since they are less likely to spend excessive time away from work from work. The added incentive of maintaining their own well-being, through immunizations and preventive care, also helps keep employees healthier and less likely to spread contagious diseases while on the job.

Challenges, particularly for smaller companies, include the cost of establishing and maintaining a quality healthcare clinic. Larger businesses are still more likely to offer onsite healthcare, according to research conducted by Willis Towers Watson. Small businesses can take advantage of options such as sharing facilities with other businesses or contracting the service to an outside healthcare provider, rather than staffing and managing the service in-house.

Data security is a major concern for employees taking advantage of onsite healthcare services. Employees want to ensure their employer will not have access to their medical information. Onsite clinics must keep their patients’ data secure, but employees may still be skeptical given the close physical proximity of the clinic.

Ellen Kelsay, chief strategy officer at nonprofit National Business Group on Health (NBGH), an employers group in Washington, D.C., suggest that employers considering an onsite clinic should establish clear goals and investigate the pros and cons further. She recommends asking “What is the organization hoping to address and how will success be measured?” and states that employers should “be realistic about the time horizon to see success. Value may not always be derived in terms of hard dollar savings, but more in terms of softer costs such as productivity or engagement.”