Decades ago it was not uncommon for large employers to have a medical clinic onsite to help employees with medical issues. The trend re-emerged several years ago as a method to control costs and help employees manage chronic diseases better. Employers are hoping the onsite clinics can lower spending and improve worker productivity. Mercer has issued an updated survey on the sector. (Mercer Survey) About a third of all large employers, those with more than 5000 employees, have a general medical clinic at or near a company location, up from 17% in 2007. Among medium-sized employers, 500 to 5000 workers, 16% have an onsite clinic. Some of these clinics also serve for occupational health needs. The clinics are most common in the health care, 42% of firms over 500 employees, and government sectors, 33%, followed by manufacturing at 17%. A sizable minority of companies have more than one clinic and about a third use a shared, multi-employer clinic. 23% operate large clinics with more than 5000 square feet, but many, 23%, have ones with 1000 square feet or less. 65% have operated the clinic for over five years. 89% of respondents said they operate the clinic to reduce health spending, 84% said to lower health risk, 76% said to reduce absenteeism, 75% said to increase productivity and 71% said for better chronic condition management.
71% said the clinic was successful in improving employee health and 61% said it helped reduced spending. Companies also express satisfaction with results in reducing ER use and engagement in wellness activities. Only about half of firms have attempted a return on investment analysis, but among those that have the great majority reported a significant return. 47% use a third-party vendor to manage the clinic, 28% do it in-house, and 19% use a hospital or physician group. Nurse practitioners staff 68% of the clinics, while doctors are at 66% of them. Most provide some form of telehealth in addition to in-person visits. On average, 51% of employees used the clinic during a year. Many companies had financial incentives for use of an onsite clinic, including no or reduced copays. Two-thirds of companies have a health plan that allows selection of the onsite clinic as a primary care provider. Many of the clinics offer lab-testing and other ancillary services. The survey indicates that onsite clinics are becoming an important source of care and other services for employers.