How COVID-19 Is Redefining the Role of On-site Health Centers

January 29, 2021


On-site and near-site health centers have become a recognized resource for employers to connect employees to quality care while controlling healthcare costs. The concept of private, employer-based care delivered at the place of business has been gaining ground over the past several years.

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and organizations across industries were forced to take a hard look at their physical work spaces and where employees should be expected to do their jobs. As companies pivoted to remote working strategies, many wondered:

What role do on-site health centers have in an increasingly virtual world?

The Ongoing Advantages of On-site Health Centers

As it turns out, many of the benefits of on-site health centers have only become more essential in a post-COVID-19 world. Employers are increasingly looking to these centers to tackle new challenges in healthcare and employee benefits brought on by the pandemic. Research from Business Group on Health found that many employers with on-site and near-site health centers are expanding services and delivery models for those services.

On-site health centers are helping employers bridge the gap between a new emphasis on remote work and the new realities of the healthcare landscape brought about by COVID-19. Here’s a closer look at how these centers can be used to improve care and help employers control costs going forward.

  1. Expanded Access and Virtual Care Resources

Employer-based healthcare centers provide patients with access to care they might not otherwise have. As COVID-19 disrupted the staffing, operations and available services at many providers, this access proved essential. Even as workforces went remote, many organizations kept on-site health centers open, giving employees a place to access care that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them.

Access to care has also taken on a newfound meaning with the rapid increase in telehealth services. Virtual healthcare, coordinated through an on-site health center, has been a crucial method for receiving care for many employees. As early as March of last year, nearly six in 10 employers with on-site clinics planned to expand telehealth and virtual services as a result of the pandemic, according to a survey by the National Association of Worksite Health Centers. Most plan to make their virtual offerings permanent.

  1. A Broader Range of Services

Many on-site health centers have become more than just a doctor’s office. The scope of services provided has expanded significantly. This expansion has been driven in part by the pandemic, as employers recognize the need for different resources and care in their member populations. Services are branching out beyond primary and acute care to include:

  • chronic condition management
  • behavioral health
  • physical therapy

These services tie directly to many organizations’ efforts to target population health initiatives and focus on preventive care and wellness. On-site health centers have become key resources for employers looking for opportunities to use member data and shared best practices to improve employee health outcomes and reduce healthcare and benefits costs.

  1. Trusted Care and Guidance

This push toward expanded access and a broader spectrum of care creates a deeper connection between employees and healthcare professionals at the sites. Often, on-site health centers allow for more meaningful interactions between patient and physician, and the focus on wellness and holistic health can foster trust that leads to better adherence to treatment and better health outcomes. This trust means patients may be more open to other delivery models, including virtual care. On-site health centers often also play an important role in helping members navigate other parts of the healthcare system, from referrals and follow-up visits to pre-approvals and claims management.

In the wake of COVID-19, employee health has become a greater focus for more organizations. More than ever before, an employee’s approach to their health and the health of their families has a direct and tangible impact on a company’s bottom line. On-site health centers and the expanded care they provide are a meaningful resource for employees looking to advocate for their own health and for organizations looking to manage costs and ensure their employees have access to the care they need.

To learn more about the benefits of on-site health centers, please contact a Conner Strong & Buckelew representative.

You can also download our e-book Maximizing the Value of On-Site and Near-Site Health Centers – 3 Key Considerations.

Click Here for a Printable Download


Employee Benefits

Practice Leader

Joseph M. DiBella

Executive Partner, National Employee Benefits Practice Leader

More than 27 years of employee benefits experience

Previously led national and large account business for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey

Practice Leader

Kristine Klepper

Executive Partner, Chief Operating Officer, Employee Benefits Practice