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On-site health clinics proliferate as employers seek cost savings

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The number of on-site health centers is substantial and growing among large companies, national surveys show. All on-site clinics provide primary care to employees and initial treatment and referrals for injured workers, clinic operators say. They also offer employers the option of occupational health services.

Several surveys document the trend:

• Willis Towers Watson P.L.C. surveyed 678 U.S. employers with a total of 11.9 million employees for its “Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey 2017” and found 20% have an on-site health clinic and another 4% may by 2019.

• The Washington-based National Business Group on Health surveyed 148 employers with a total of 10 million workers and found 54% had an on-site clinic in 2017 and another 12% expect to open one by 2020, according to its “2018 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey.” More than half of those clinics offer occupational health services.

• Results of a 2017 survey by the Alexandria, Virginiabased Society for Human Resource Management indicate that smaller employers are less likely to have on on-site clinic. Its 3,227 survey respondents included small businesses, nonprofits and government agencies. It found that 8% have on-site clinics, a figure that has held steady since 2013.

The uptick in interest in on-site clinics, at least for large companies, has been a boon for the businesses that operate on-site clinics for employers, experts say.

Among them are QuadMed L.L.C., based in Sussex, Wisconsin. QuadMed opened its first on-site clinic in 1991. Today, QuadMed operates on-site health centers at more than 100 companies in 23 states, said Liana Wayda, QuadMed’s manager of strategic marketing.

“We’ve seen interest in on-site and near-site health centers steadily increasing,” Ms. Wayda said. “But we’ve also seen a bit of a pause recently because of uncertainty over federal health care.”

Charlotte, North Carolina-based Healthstat Inc., launched in 2001, operates about 300 on-site clinics for more than 100 public- and private-sector clients, typically with 500-plus employees, in 34 states, market development manager Melissa Parks said.

Marathon Health, based in Winooski, Vermont, began in 2005 and now runs 140 on-site health centers for 90 public- and private-sector employers nationwide, said a company spokeswoman. The majority have 500 to 5,000 employees. “At Marathon Health centers we always do triage and first treatment of injured workers,” she said.

“There are typically two motivations for having an on-site center. One is to drive down health care costs. The other is a genuine concern about the health of their employees and as a tool for attracting and maintaining talent.”