Nationally, many large employers have opened onsite employee clinics offering everything from acute primary and urgent care to biometrics screenings and life-style risk education for workers with chronic diseases. Onsite clinics generate healthcare savings for employers in two ways:
- by decreasing employee healthcare expenditures; and
- by reducing absenteeism.
The question is, “How can your organization benefit from this trend?” We see three major benefits.
Use Onsite Clinics to Feed Your Network
Many of our clients have been reluctant to get involved in managing onsite employer clinics. Some have been concerned that their loyal primary care physicians would view such endeavors as overt competition. Others simply don’t see the value or return on investment.
We believe that perspective needs to change. Today, many of our hospital clients own large employed primary care physician networks. An employer clinic service line needs to be viewed not as a competitor, but as an extension and feeder for the primary care network. Onsite employer clinic sponsorships allow hospitals to direct patients – commercially insured patients, no less – without an established physician relationship to primary care physicians within their network. Many younger employees don’t have primary care physicians. What better way to ensure your organization gets the first shot when they need a referral to a family doctor or internist?
Use Onsite Clinics to Free-Up Your Network’s Capacity
From an employee’s perspective, seeing a primary care physician is a hassle. Going to the doctor takes time. Few primary care offices offer after-hours appointments. For employees with children, even after-hours appointments aren’t always ideal, because their busy days don’t stop after 5:00 p.m. An onsite employee clinic staffed by a nurse practitioner offers a fast, convenient alternative for those who need a flu or allergy shot, an antibiotic for a nagging sinus infection, or a trained clinician to assess a lingering health issue.
Plus, as the ACA rolls out, newly-insured patients are expected to cause long waits for primary care appointments. An onsite clinic can help free up your network’s primary care office capacity by keeping minor issues out of the offices, thus opening the schedule for patients with issues that require a physician.
Use Onsite Clinics as an Entrée to Population Management
Onsite employer clinics offer hospitals and health systems a golden opportunity to begin population health management and offer wellness/prevention activities on a small, controlled scale, where it’s easy for the employer to document the cost/benefit of these programs. As you discover what works – and what doesn’t – you can roll out these programs on a larger scale.
Population health management can also make your primary care network operate more efficiently by:
- Keeping minor acute issues from clogging physician schedules at the Emergency Department;
- Improving the oversight of patients with chronic conditions, thereby lessening long-term complications and hospitalizations;
- Promoting improved health through programs such as smoking cessation and weight loss; and
- Allowing employer-based nurse practitioners to work directly with your employed physician network and the network’s IT system to improve patient care.