Fueled by innovative telemedicine platforms, U.S. businesses are finding

it easier to bring healthcare right to their employees.

More than one third of large U.S. employers recently surveyed by Towers
Watson are offering telemedicine services to their employees, and
another 12 percent say they’ll be adding the service within two years –
all part of a national trend toward the use of onsite health centers.

“Telemedicine and onsite health centers are perfect complements,” said
Allan Khoury, a senior consultant to the global professional services
company, in a press release announcing the survey results.
“They help employers make it easy for employees and other eligible
members to see a doctor and get informed medical expertise — even on
evenings and weekends. They also support an overall employer strategy of
keeping workers productive and eliminating wasteful costs such as
unnecessary emergency room visits.”

Towers Watson surveyed 120 large employers for its 2015
Employer-Sponsored Health Care Centers Survey, and found that close to
40 percent with onsite health facilities are planning to beef up those
services over the next two years.

According to the survey, employers are using on-site or near-site health
facilities (which can include telemedicine, retail clinics and kiosks)
to increase productivity (75 percent), reduce healthcare costs (74
percent) and improve convenient employee access to healthcare services
(66 percent). While offering a wide range of primary care services,
these resources are also being used by employers for immunizations (99
percent), care for acute conditions such as upper respiratory and
urinary tract infections (99 percent) and blood work (95 percent).

“For employers with a critical mass of employees in one or more
locations, onsite and near-site health centers can be an integral
component of a high-performance healthcare program,” Bruce Hochstadt, a
senior consultant at Towers Watson, said in the press release.
“Encouraged by their experience to date, many employers with these
centers believe providing convenient access to health services increases
employee productivity by reducing time away from work. What’s more,
many are ready to increase their investment.”

Employers are also starting to see the benefits of encouraging employee
health and wellness. According to the survey, 86 percent already offer
wellness programs, and 63 percent offer lifestyle coaching to promote
and reinforce behavior changes. In fact, two-thirds of the employers
surveyed plan to expand their services even more within the next three
years.

According to the survey, the most popular form of on-site clinic is
outsourced, with 64 percent passing on the management, staffing and
services to a vendor; another 23 percent of employers run the clinics
themselves, while 18 percent rely on regional provider groups or health
systems.

Employers are also becoming more conscious of the ROI in on-site health.
According to the survey, where only 47 percent calculated the ROI in
2012, 75 percent now measure that value. That value could be measured,
for example, by comparing employee use and staffing levels against
inpatient and emergency department use, or looking at time taken by
employees for sick care or to care for a sick family member.

From mHealthNews, by Eric Wicklund, May 29, 2015