In recent years, more employers have turned to worksite or onsite clinics in order to provide employees with the support and services they need while keeping excessive health care costs under control. While worksite clinics can offer significant benefits to employers and employees alike, as well as to the health care system overall, it’s important to realize that not all workplace clinics are created equal. According to a 2015 white paper from Wells Fargo Insurance, the following six components are essential to the success of an onsite clinic:
- Component #1—From a logistical standpoint, a comprehensive electronic and online health record system is perhaps the most important element of a successful worksite clinic. Industry experts have long pointed to electronic health records as one of the tools that has the greatest potential to reduce system-wide costs and eliminate inefficiencies, so adopting electronic records and ensuring that they are properly integrated with existing medical and pharmacy claims is a must for effective worksite clinics.
- Component #2—The question of who will provide care at an onsite clinic is one that employers need to consider carefully. While there are a number of different models for workplace clinic management, the chosen provider should ideally be familiar with coordinating the health care environment and navigating the corporate culture.
- Component #3—One of the top benefits of implementing a workplace clinic is that employers will better be able to tailor the care and services provided to fit their specific employee population. Therefore, it’s important for employers to build an employee-centric model for their clinic that takes into account the health risk profile of the employee base. This will help to ensure that the most appropriate care is made widely available, while limiting inefficiencies and expenditures arising from the provision of unnecessary or little-used services.
- Component #4—While workplace clinics are becoming more popular among large employers, no employer should leap on this trend without first putting together a long-term, flexible strategic plan. Companies that launch onsite clinics without considering the future impact and long-term implications are much less likely to have their efforts be successful because they don’t know exactly what needs the clinic will be responding to or how its use and impact will change over time. The most successful worksite clinics involve a strategic plan powered by data-driven insights and flexibility to change quickly in response to shifting trends and needs.
- Component #5—Going hand-in-hand with a strategic plan is a consistent process for reviewing and reporting clinic outcomes. It’s difficult to know what clinic areas need to be improved if there’s no system in place for measuring and assessing what’s working and what isn’t. Employers must work with care providers and clinic managers to develop measurable criteria for success and to ensure that these criteria are applied consistently to provide the most accurate and detailed picture possible of a clinic’s progress.
- Component #6—It’s an often-overlooked element, but the physical location of a worksite clinic facility plays a major role in its success (or lack thereof). A workplace clinic needs to be tactically located in order to provide the broadest access possible to all employees while maintaining the necessary level of privacy and confidentiality.
In addition to these six components, a recent article from risk advisory firm HNI outlines four steps that employers can take to maximize the effectiveness of worksite clinics and boost their chances of success.
- Step 1: Incentivize utilization.
It’s impossible for a workplace clinic to be successful if it is underutilized. When clinics are successful, it’s due in part to employers having carefully mapped out the value proposition for their employees, ensuring that the clinic offers services that are truly useful, quick, and easy to access, as well as cost-effective when compared with other options. Without incentives like these, there will be little reason for employees to choose a workplace clinic over the existing alternatives.
- Step 2: Be open about privacy issues.
Understandably, employees are often concerned that using a workplace clinic will mean their employer will have access to their medical information. Employers can increase the chances that their clinics will be successful by openly addressing this issue, assuring employees that their health information will only be handled by the care providers, who have a legal and ethical obligation to maintain confidentiality.
- Step 3: Communicate and build awareness.
Employees will be more unlikely to use a workplace clinic if they don’t know about it, or if they don’t know what benefits it has to offer them. Employers with successful onsite clinics typically use ongoing communication and awareness-building campaigns to continually remind employees about the clinic’s availability and benefits, as well as to encourage use of the facility among employees who may take longer to buy into the idea.
- Step 4: Demonstrate a commitment to wellness from the top down.
It’s important for employees to understand that the rationale behind launching a workplace clinic is to promote better health and well-being for everyone. This message works most effectively when it comes from the top of the organization. Communication from managers and executives about the clinic demonstrates that it isn’t just about adding one more service, but a testament to the fact that the company is serious about wellness. In addition, senior members of the company should set an example by using the clinic and participating in wellness initiatives themselves.