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Onsite Clinics Add Alternative Treatment Services to Impact Costs and Productivity

Employers increasingly consider corporate health clinics a vital component of health and wellness strategies. The most recent National Business Group on Health survey revealed 44 percent of large employers had onsite corporate health clinics and nine percent were considering them.

Many employers look to onsite clinics to improve employee productivity and integrate wellness initiatives by focusing on services to effectively address conditions that are both prevalent and costly, such as low back pain (over $50 billion a year in direct treatment costs in the US). Often these services include alternative therapies beyond those provided by a traditional physician-nurse model.

According to Larry Boress, executive director, National Association of Worksite Health Centers, a growing number of onsite health centers include access to chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists among other providers (Larry Boress will be a featured speaker at the BHCG Spring Learning Program to be held April 27 at Briggs & Stratton). Employers hope to impact the costs of treatment associated with low back pain and other musculoskeletal issues and achieve better outcomes through the more conservative and less invasive treatment that alternative therapies represent.

By adding alternative onsite services, employers are banking on mounting evidence that these treatments offer lower overall utilization of radiology services, outpatient and emergency services and physical therapy.  For example, a study out this month, featuring data from 85,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield beneficiaries, found that care for low back pain initiated with a doctor of chiropractic saved 40 percent on health care costs when compared with care initiated through a medical doctor.

Employers are also looking to improve productivity and reduce absence rates by offering a full complement of therapies that employees and their dependents seek.

Says Boress, “By keeping people at the worksite, the employer can reduce unnecessary medical costs, bring employees back to work quicker and connect patients who come into the center with other employer-provided preventive and condition-management services and programs, increasing engagement in all benefit offerings.”

Please note: The BHCG has not evaluated the effectiveness of alternative therapies/provider services – readers should not consider this an endorsement of the concept.