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Employers Interested in Expanding Onsite Health Centers

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U.S. employers with onsite health centers are planning to expand offered services, as well as those who can use the facilities in an effort to keep workers healthy and productive, according to a new report.

Towers Watson, New York (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW), published this finding in its 2012 Onsite Health Center Survey. Conducted in May, the study asked targeted companies to answer 21 questions about their implementation, use and employee perceptions of onsite health centers.

Participants included organizations that currently operate an onsite health center and participated in the 17th Annual Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care (2012) and the Towers Watson 2011 – 2012 [email protected] Study. The respondents represent companies with at least 1,000 employees, accounting for a total of 1.7 million employees, and operate in a variety of industry sectors.

The report finds that 62% of most companies establish or keep centers open to eliminate visits to offsite medical providers. Other factors include cost saving (57%) and better access to care (46%).

Services offered at onsite centers can include onsite coaching, immunizations, biometric screenings, physical therapy, pharmacy and other medical services. Of the 74 large employers participating in the survey that have established or are planning to establish onsite health facilities, 81% offer biometric screenings, wellness counseling (73%), urgent care and first-responder services (70% each), and primary care services (63%).

Companies expanding offerings in 2013 plan to add telemedicine, up from 8% that currently offer the service. In addition, 8% plan to add primary care services (63% currently offer); 6% plan to add full, onsite pharmacies (24% currently offer); and 6% plan to add physical therapy (41% currently offer).

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More than one-third (36%) allow spouses and children of employees to use their centers. In the next 12 months, 13% are planning to allow spouses to use the centers, and another 11% are planning to allow children. More employers are also planning to allow former employees on COBRA, as well as temporary and contract employees, to use their centers.

Health center reactions

Nearly 75% of senior management have very high support for their centers. Likewise, they believe that most employees are very satisfied with both the level (53%) and quality (58%) of the services offered by their centers.

However, only 38% of employers believe their onsite health centers generates a positive ROI, compared with 9% that do not. The remaining 53% either don’t know or don’t track the ROI. Those that measure use lost time as the most common factor to make their calculations (74%).

“Even though internal support is high, companies are finding it difficult to get their arms around how to measure the ROI of onsite health centers,” said Dr. Allan Khoury, senior consultant at Towers Watson. “But that will come along in time. With employee health and productivity, and cost control, remaining paramount concerns, the future of onsite health centers remains very promising.”