Are office doctors the new golden trend in employee benefits?

Worksite clinics are going beyond occupational health to provide routine primary care

Are office doctors the new golden trend in employee benefits?

The idea of worksite clinics is nothing new. But with big names such as Amazon and Apple now looking into building on-site health facilities for their employees, other companies are seeing a new standard in employee health benefits.

In fact, a third of businesses with 5,000 or more employees have started to provide the services of a general medical clinic on site, a 2017 report by Mercer on employer-sponsored plans showed.

The goal of workplace clinics is simple: to offer routine primary care amid rising healthcare costs. The trend has been highlighted, however, by Amazon’s much talked-about entry into the healthcare industry with partners Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase.

As CNBC first reported, the tech company is reportedly planning to open clinics at its Seattle headquarters, enlisting a small group of physicians as part of the test run. If all goes according to plan, the project would be implemented widely to serve more employees by 2019.

David Keyt, Mercer’s consulting group leader on worksite clinics, noted how today’s primary care facilities also go beyond addressing occupational health concerns.

“Where worksite clinics once focused on treating work-related illnesses and injuries, employers are increasingly using them to provide a wide array of primary care services,” Keyt said.

Other clinics provide ancillary services, such as mental health or physical therapy, “without shifting undue cost to workers,” he said.

Employers who might not have the same massive resources as Amazon are turning to third-party worksite health vendors in the hope of keeping insurance costs down and promoting a healthy lifestyle among employees.

“Self-funded organizations are looking at how they can focus on prevention and minimize not just occupational health-related injuries but also how to create preventative and holistic care and take care of chronically ill employees,” said Joe Van De Graaff, vice president of healthcare data research firm KLAS.

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