By Kisha Alexander, PhD, MPH
As healthcare costs increase and patient care becomes more specialized, HR managers and corporate wellness teams are seeking more ways to directly impact employee healthcare costs. According to the Milliman Index, the average organization’s healthcare costs increase by 4.3% every year.
Because of this, many organization are turning to proactive wellness initiatives to drive down these costs. From corporate-sponsored employee assistance programs to subsidized employee gym memberships, many employers are pulling out all the stops when it comes to keeping employees healthy. One of the newer and lesser-known additions to this list are onsite or near-site clinics, which give employees immediate access to primary care services, strategic wellness programming, and even conveniences such as no-cost medications and labs.
One of the biggest hurdles standing between HR teams and the ability to implement these types of large-scale, long-term wellness initiatives is gaining executive buy-in. Because onsite and near-site clinics require a sizeable investment in capital and organizational effort, it’s critical for benefits leaders to understand the advantages, the impact, and the return on investment (ROI) before pitching the project to decision-makers. Below, we’ll look at a quick overview of onsite and near-site clinic ROI and then dig into the five steps to keep in mind when pitching corporate wellness initiatives to organizational executives.
Measuring the impact of an onsite or near-site clinic
When it comes time to gather executive support for an onsite or near-site clinic project, one of the biggest questions HR managers face will most likely have to do with ROI, or return on investment. Luckily, when it comes to these types of clinics, both ROI and VOI (Value of Investment) are incredibly measurable and tangible.
Onsite and near-site clinics can impact healthcare spending and overall costs by:
Reducing overall healthcare spend
For employers, high-cost health services such as specialty care, emergency visits, and referrals can steadily build up across an employee population. With access to primary care services onsite, employees can skip over costly health engagements all together, which will directly impact an organization’s annual insurance premiums. Employees can enjoy personal, accessible care without incurring excess costs on behalf of their employer.
Making employee access to health care services more affordable
Oftentimes, primary care isn’t even the most expensive part of an individual’s daily interactions with health services. Prescriptions, diagnostic tests, and other direct expenses are out-of-pocket costs that can quickly become exorbitant. With onsite and near-site clinics, employees can fill generic prescriptions for up to 20% less than market prices and obtain lab results for up to 70% lower than market prices.
Creating a culture of wellness to impact chronic care
One of the biggest influencers on an organization’s healthcare costs is employees’ chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure. Implementing an onsite or near-site clinic is a direct acknowledgement of these conditions, and sends a clear message to employees that the organization cares about preventive care and is ready to help in any way necessary. Creating a culture of wellness starts at the top of any organization, and investing in a clinic initiative is a great indicator to employees that the company is engaged.
Attracting and retaining new talent
As part of this culture of wellness, onsite and near-site clinics are also a great tool for HR teams looking to attract and retain top talent. Employees want to know their employers are dedicated to healthy lifestyles, and a proactive approach such as onsite clinics is an A+ branding tool. Today’s job seekers are more likely to take a position with a company that values health and wellness than one that doesn’t, which will definitely resonate with any executive team.
5 Tips for Pitching an Onsite or Near-Site Clinic to an Executive Team
With these ROI metrics in hand, it’s now time for an HR Director or team to make a case to the rest of the executive leadership. Here is a foolproof 5-step plan for pitching an onsite or near-site clinic initiative to an executive team:
1. Map out ROI and VOI
Once the most important ROI and VOI metrics have been determined (i.e. reducing costs, impacting chronic conditions, increasing retention, etc.), it’s time to start gathering numbers. Using placeholder values at first, calculate the overall employer and employee cost savings year-over-year to demonstrate the long-term impact of a clinic. HR teams can take advantage of free ROI calculators such as this one to visualize how much cost savings is actually on the table.
2. Calculate a budget
How much an organization is willing to invest in an onsite or near-site clinic project will directly impact the project’s outcomes. A budget should not only cover construction costs of a new clinic (if applicable), but should also include furnishings, staff, and operation needs of the clinic. Be sure to calculate multiple options at various price points to use in discussion with executives to influence decisions and mitigate any risk.
3. Understand logistics
The actual logistics behind an onsite clinic are an important part of the planning process in which executive teams will be interested. Does the organization have space onsite to construct an onsite clinic, or will it have to build an offsite (or near-site) care center? Can only full-time employees receive care from the clinic, or will contract employees or interns also benefit? Will the clinic have a full-time primary care provider on duty at all times, or only on certain days? These are some things to think about before presenting the plan to other decision makers.
4. Present a timeline
If the organization has to build a new clinic or rehab existing square footage, the executive team will need to understand the timeline. It’s also a good idea to include a projected ROI timeline to show exactly when the organization will begin recouping returns and seeing a positive impact.
5. Promote internally and externally
Last, but certainly not least, leave the executive team with a detailed plan on how it will promote this new healthcare offering. How will it increase employee utilization and ensure employees (and possibly their dependents) are using the new clinic? How will the organization get the word out to potential new hires? For HR teams, an onsite or near-site clinic is a project that can continue to grow and build ROI, but only with the right promotion and branding.
About Kisha Alexander
Kisha Alexander is the Director of Wellness and Account Engagement for OurHealth. She began her work in the wellness field as a Health Coach 13 years ago and has a strong passion for health promotion and behavior change. Kisha has her Master’s in Public Health and PhD in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.