In 2020, employer-provided medical benefit costs in Singapore are projected to jump by 10 per cent, outpacing general inflation of 1.4%, and higher than the Asia-Pacific (Apac) average of 8.7%.
With increasing healthcare costs, employers must explore alternative options which allow their employees to champion their own health but deliver quality, value-based healthcare that is effective.
From higher productivity to lower turnover rates, onsite care stands to become an inextricable part of employee healthcare benefits.
What is on site care?
Onsite medical care has been offered by employers for almost 70 years in corporate history, serving the primary purpose of treating minor ailments or administrating basic first-aid treatments. They were staffed by nurses and targeted at getting employees back on their feet in the shortest possible time to maximize efficiency.
Presently, onsite care has developed to become more encompassing and innovatory to cater the ever-changing needs of employees. As such, many employers are turning to this avenue of care not only motivate workers to champion their own health, but also deliver quality, value-based healthcare that is effective.
The benefits of on site care:
60% of employees would take a job with lower pay but better health benefits
63% reduction in emergency room visits
63% reduction in missed work-days after implementing onsite care
121 minutes spent on an average offsite doctor’s appointment
Shifting from treatment to prevention
Having a healthcare provider at the employee’s fingertips proactively shifts a company’s healthcare approach from prevention to treatment. It can reduce unnecessary and expensive emergency care and encourages time-challenged employees to seek preemptive measures before their condition becomes debilitating.
Increased workplace efficiency
Moreover, workplace productivity is maximized as the quality of employee health is increased. Employees suffering from chronic illnesses may find it difficult to take time off work to attend regular doctor appointments. Onsite clinics allow employees to receive immediate medical support or even provide preventive care, improving worker health and reducing workplace absenteeism.
Onsite care saves employee time and employer resources. The majority of medical cases can be treated inhouse without being referred to the emergency room. With an inhouse medical team, patients skip the queue and return to work faster.
Better quality of care
Onsite care provides a more integrated approach to healthcare. An onsite doctor will have access to employee health records and knowledge of pre-existing medical conditions. Aside from emergency care, going through public health channels can mean that patients are required to wait for prolonged periods of time to receive their healthcare services. This is often the case with specialists or even routine medical procedures like physicals and immunizations.
According to the 2016 Aflac Workforce Report, quality healthcare benefits are more attractive to employees than pay increments. Onsite care can be seen as a key element for employee retention. High employee turnover rates can incur significant costs such as increased workload placed on existing employees and high retraining cost.
How to implement on site care?
As healthcare models evolve to become more holistic and sophisticated, onsite health clinics should offer a range of services.
Such services can include:
- Acute Care: short term treatments for minor illnesses or injuries
- Preventive Care: periodic health screenings, vaccinations, and check-ups
- Disease Management: continuous treatment for chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart conditions
- Wellness Programs: stress and fitness management classes
While onsite care services may boast of increased convenience and efficiency, there are multiple factors to consider before implementation.
- What would the scope of care be? If a patient falls ill outside of working hours, can he/she visit the company doctor? What illnesses are under the doctor’s jurisdiction?
- Will specialized medical providers be employed?
- How open would employees be to sharing private information such as substance abuse or depression?
- Would services be extended to spouses and dependents, or limited to just employees?
- Is it viable for my company to have an onsite medical center?
On the employer’s end, a rigorous cost benefit analysis will likely be at the top priority. However, for employees, personal data and privacy protection would be more pertinent.
The biggest challenge for employers would be the risk and liability associated with medical malpractice, as well as the handling of personal health data. To minimize the likelihood of such occurrences, employers should partner with a credible onsite care vendor with a proven track record for securing patient data.
In doing so, employers can maintain a distinct boundary between workplace environments and their employee’s medical provider. Third-party organizations are also more equipped to provide quality services; helping to alleviate privacy concerns.
Should your company invest in an onsite medical center?
Despite its benefits, investing in an onsite medical clinic may not be the best choice for every company. Oftentimes, size of employee population can be a deciding factor.
The type of industry can also determine which type of healthcare center is best suited for employees. For example, labor intensive industries can largely benefit from onsite clinics as they help reduce workers compensation claims.
Large companies are more likely to reap substantial rate of returns on their investment. This is because the cost savings incurred on employee healthcare can easily offset the initial start-up and maintenance costs of an onsite clinic.
However, there are viable alternatives for smaller companies.
Shared wellness centers allow companies to share resources, thereby providing their employees with the benefits of an onsite clinic at lower costs.
In these circumstances, choosing a strategic location for a near-site clinic is more effective in delivering care. For instance, Kent Ridge Health had partnered with several stakeholders in implementing an onsite care clinic. This has manifested itself as a penthouse-esque clinic situated in Shanghai, where selected businesses can access its facilities.
Employers can also designate a special telehealth space that employees can book during the workday. These spaces can provide video screen, phone, and medical equipment that enables remote monitoring, such as blood pressure cuffs. For employees with chronic diseases, rather than having to take time off for regular doctor appointments, can instead utilize these telehealth spaces to monitor vitals and check in with their doctor.
When deciding the scope of medical services provided by onsite medical clinics, companies should always ensure that their care providers are part of the broader primary-care network to effectively manage serious conditions and avoid unnecessary emergency room visits.
Companies offering medical benefits as employee retainment incentives should strive to go above and beyond by extending medical coverage to non-working hours or employee families. For instance, they can provide telemedicine coverage or partner with existing networks so that employees and their loved ones can have receive uninterrupted, coordinated care.
When designing the care program, always consider the patient experience. Digital transformation has changed the expectations of consumers. These days, ordering something online and having it delivered the same day is achievable with just a few clicks. Likewise, healthcare consumers are increasingly inclined to expect the same frictionless experience. Successful onsite clinics should deliver this high level of services and offer more mobile and digital tools.
In addition, companies should design the care program to align with the medical needs of their employee population. This can include the employment of specialists such as psychiatrists or physiotherapists.