For the last couple of years the Midwest Business Group on Health has organized roundtables for around 110 self-funded employers to discuss onsite health clinics. The popularity of the group meetings led Larry Boress, MBGH president, to look into creating an association for the growing number of interested employers to have a place to discuss best practices, growth potential and a realistic view of how to determine a return on investment from the clinics.

At the same time, health care consultancy The La Penna Group also found through employer roundtables, as well as a website and newsletter on the topic, that employers were interested in creating an association. In May, the organizations partnered to form the National Worksite Health Center Association.

"Primarily the employers want a trusted place to exchange information that's not really organized in a commercial fashion," explains Mike La Penna, principal of The La Penna Group and author of Workplace Clinics and Employer Managed Healthcare: A Catalyst for Cost Savings and Improved Productivity.

The nonprofit organization plans to eventually include the vendor community, but will first give employers with clinic experience the chance to set the agenda for how the organization will function, according to La Penna.

In addition to a "very select" board of employers, the association will also feature a medical director council consisting of directors from several onsite programs around the country.

"This new national association will increase the exchange of information and experiences between employer sponsors of worksite health facilities," says Boress. "NWHCA will also provide practical and objective information for those examining this approach as to how these facilities can be part of a total health care strategy that increases productivity, reduces costs and enhances engagement in health management programs."

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