Workplace health clinics are in a state of total renovation. Not quite long ago, a workplace nurse’s responsibility was quite similar to that of a school nurse—dispensing Band-Aids, treating workplace injuries, and other health emergencies like asthma attacks.
However, due to rising insurance costs and an aging workforce, companies are now refurbishing clinics into a place that is staffed by nurses and health coaches and run like a regular doctor’s office. The goal is to train employees how to deal with long-term, expensive conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.
Chronic diseases account for more than 65% of all corporate health-care spending, according to a 2012 Aon Hewitt report.
For employers, on-site care is not only more cost effective, but it’s also a way to minimize time lost to sick days and doctor visits. Plus, it’s also a great business strategy to retain staff at a time when they can’t afford big raises.
While treatment is voluntary, clinic operators—most on-site facilities are operated by third parties—review employees’ health screenings and surveys to target those who have, or are at risk for, chronic conditions. The clinic operators call and email employees, and sometimes lure workers with gift cards or discounts on premiums to get them into the clinic.
At Hanesbrands Inc., rising rates of chronic diseases among its workforce led the company to open a clinic in 2010 at its Winston-Salem, N.C., headquarters. The company tapped CHS Health Services to run the facility and insisted that all services be provided free.
According to a Towers Watson survey, 28% of large U.S. employers hosted on-site medical clinics in 2012, while 39% are projected to have them by 2014.
Critics, however, raise concerns about privacy and the deeper intrusion of employers into workers’ health and personal lives. It ultimately all boils down to an employee’s comfort level.