Recent years have seen more and more employers, both large and mid-sized, choose to offer worksite clinics (also known as workplace or onsite clinics) as a way of keeping down the cost of their health benefit programs while at the same time encouraging better health and wellness among their employees. As worksite clinics have grown in popularity, so too has the variety of staffing and administrative platforms used to manage and operate them. Today, there are three main management models in common use, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Read on to learn more about these models and discover which one might best suit your situation as an employer.
Employer-hired clinical staff
This model is a popular choice among employers who want—and are able—to have an active, central role in the operation of all aspects of a worksite clinic. With this platform, the employer assumes responsibility for managing the administration of the clinic and its associated operating costs; the employer is also the one to hire and manage clinic staff.
Given the heavy administrative burden this model places on the employer, as well as the degree of medical industry expertise required to effectively manage clinical operations, it is most commonly used by employers in the health care industry. Health care employers do not deviate too far from their core business in establishing a worksite clinic, and they are typically well equipped with the necessary supporting technology, such as electronic health records, and the clinical experience required to effectively run a clinic. This is not to say that employers in other industries are necessarily unsuited to use this model, but simply that such employers need to be realistic about their capacity to properly manage an operation which may lie beyond the realm of their current expertise.
Whether within or outside the health care industry, employers considering this model would be wise to conduct a thorough due diligence process, particularly with regard to the legal and regulatory requirements surrounding issues like compliance liability and employee privacy.
Contracted local health care providers
For many employers who are aware of their limits when it comes to providing clinical services but nevertheless want to have a hands-on role in a worksite clinic, the model of contracting local health care providers is becoming increasingly popular. In this hybrid approach, local health care providers take charge of managing the medical services offered by the worksite clinic, but the employer remains responsible for overseeing the business operations. This model allows each half of the operation to play to its strengths, creating a unified and effective operation overall.
However, for true success under this model, it’s important that the employer remains open and frank with clinic personnel about the goals of the worksite clinic, in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest. For example, problems may arise if the primary goal of the employer is simply to create more business for their own health care network rather than to effectively manage the overall health and well-being of the employee population, as the goal of the contracted provider may be. If employees are to truly trust the worksite clinic as the best manager of their health, providers and employers must agree on what the worksite clinic is all about and what their desired outcomes are.
A growing number of employers want to take advantage of the benefits a worksite clinic can bring (both to their business and to their employees), but they lack the resources, knowledge, or inclination to involve themselves directly in any aspect of clinic operations. In response to this increasing demand, the marketplace has seen a surge in third-party vendors offering workplace clinic development and management services to employers of all sizes. Under this model, the employer is almost entirely hands-off; it is the vendor who controls all clinic operations, employs and manages all personnel for the clinic, and is responsible for ensuring compliance with any regulatory, liability, and licensure requirements for the clinic and its staff.
There’s no question that this model is the most costly option, but many employers find that paying for the expertise that a third-party vendor brings to the implementation and running of a workplace clinic is a worthwhile investment. Best-practice third-party vendors have amassed vital knowledge and resources that typical employers simply cannot match, such as experience building a complex system that takes health care delivery beyond acute care or immediate occupational health needs and critical tools including electronic health records, health-based IT systems, data mining tools, and clinician training models.
In choosing this model, however, employers must be aware that the success of the worksite clinic depends completely on the vendor, and moreover, that not all vendors are created equal. Employers therefore need to rigorously conduct due diligence on potential candidates before selecting a vendor to work with.