Is there a doctor in the house? In workplaces nationwide, it’s becoming more likely that the answer is “Yes.”
In hopes of not only controlling, but actually driving down overall healthcare costs, many employers are providing in-house healthcare clinics for workers. Originally, these clinics were intended to treat those injured on the job, but their role now is expanding to include both primary care and preventative services.
Every office is filled with passive patients-those who know they should probably see a doctor, but never seem to make the time or consistently rationalize a reason to avoid going (that’s not you, is it?). Regardless of their reason, 27 percent of men and 14 percent of women had no office visits to a doctor or other health professional in the past 12 months, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Imagine how those numbers might shift if barriers to care are removed (such as high cost and limited or delayed access), and the process became as easy as visiting the lunchroom.
The power of an onsite clinic goes well beyond acute care needs. For instance, employee A comes in with a runny nose, but a routine check also reveals skyrocketing blood pressure. Or perhaps the opportunity arises to discuss excessive weight or habitual smoking. If so, it’s completely possible that a future healthcare crisis was just lessened or eliminated altogether. After all, the lowest cost claim is the claim that never happens.
According to the Los Angeles Times, 15 percent of U.S. companies with 500 or more employees had health centers in 2011, up from 11 percent the year before. Some are operated by the companies themselves; others are contracted through firms specializing in clinic services. Even if a permanent clinic is not feasible, smaller employers may also want to consider interim or alternative on-site services such as traveling mammography units, seasonal flu shots, or even tele-medicine. If the employee’s won’t go to the doctor, bring the doctor to them!