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Companies Not Fully Tapping Potential of Onsite Health Centers
Date:3/19/2008

Lack of Performance Measurement Cited as Top Impediment to Operations

WASHINGTON, March 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- High health costs and a renewed focus on worker productivity have led an increasing number of companies to open onsite health centers in recent years. However, few companies fully tap the potential of these centers, according to Watson Wyatt, a leading global consulting firm.

Nearly one-third of companies (29 percent) have or plan to have an onsite health center by 2009, up from 27 percent in 2006, according to Watson Wyatt/National Business Group on Health research. A separate Watson Wyatt study of 84 companies with onsite health care centers found that reducing medical costs was the chief reason 70 percent of companies have opened a center since 2000 (recent adopters). Only 49 percent of companies that adopted health centers before 2000 (early adopters) did so due to cost. More early adopters (54 percent) opened a center to address occupational health.

"Although their primary motivation may be changing, more employers are operating onsite health centers as part of their overall health and productivity strategy," said Marne Bell, senior health care consultant for Watson Wyatt. "Yet, surprisingly many do not have a good handle on whether these centers are producing the desired return on investment."

Nearly half (45 percent) of companies cite inadequate measures of performance as the top challenge in operating the centers. Integration of the health center with a company's other health and productivity initiatives and data also remains a challenge.

Measurement is the top challenge for companies with onsite health centers

Challenge Employers cite

among top

challenges (%)

Inadequate measures of

performance 45%

Less than ideal location 23%

Lack of integration with

health and productivity

programs 19%

Lack of integration with

local medical providers 17%

Lower than expected

utilization 17%

Higher utilization for "self

care" 10%

No challenges indicated 26%

Most companies do not link their data to medical claims (41 percent of recent adopters and 58 percent of early adopters). Nearly one-fifth do not store their data electronically (19 percent of recent adopters and 16 percent of early adopters). Further, only 39 percent of companies integrate disease management programs with their onsite health centers and only 30 percent connect them with a nursing hotline.

"As onsite health center services grow more comprehensive, linking the center with a company's full range of health and productivity initiatives promotes more efficient care management and can create a competitive advantage," said Bell.

Other findings:

-- Preventive services such as immunizations and screenings are the most

common offering among recent adopters of onsite health centers

(81 percent). Mental health counseling is more than three times as

common among early adopters (46 versus 15 percent). Physical therapy

is twice as prevalent among early adopters (44 percent versus 22

percent). However, recent adopters are nearly twice as likely as

early adopters to offer pharmacy benefits (44 percent versus 23

percent).

-- Nearly all (96 percent) of employers make onsite health center

services available to employees enrolled in their health plan. Nearly

three-quarters (71 percent) of companies provide services to

part-time employees, even those not eligible to participate in the

health plan. Only 25 percent of organizations offer clinic services

to covered dependents and just one-fifth (20 percent) of retirees are

offered access to the center.

More information on the 2007/2008 Onsite Health Center Survey of 84 large companies is available at http://www.watsonwyatt.com/onsitehealthcenters.

About Watson Wyatt Worldwide

Watson Wyatt (NYSE, Nasdaq: WW) is the trusted business partner to the world's leading organizations on people and financial issues. The firm's global services include: managing the cost and effectiveness of employee benefit programs; developing attraction, retention and reward strategies; advising pension plan sponsors and other institutions on optimal investment strategies; providing strategic and financial advice to insurance and financial services companies; and delivering related technology, outsourcing and data services. Watson Wyatt has 7,000 associates in 32 countries and is located on the Web at http://www.watsonwyatt.com.


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SOURCE Watson Wyatt Worldwide
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