In the modern work-place there are few absolutes. But, here’s one: A sick employee is a less productive employee.
As the founder and CEO of several businesses, I know the value of an employee who is healthy and operating at peak productivity. Highly productive employees infuse the workplace with a sense of excitement and achievement. They make great things happen.
In contrast, sick employees have an opposite impact. Over the years, I have sent many employees home or to the doctor. Typically, they insist that they are fine, no matter how clear their illness. I admire their loyalty, but they represent a danger to a business. They can be a source of contagion to their colleagues. In addition, studies show that sick employees at work are far more likely to make costly mistakes, and lead to staggering costs in excess of $150 Billion in lost productivity for U.S. companies.
Moreover, as employees get sicker, they cost the business more. Longer absences lead to greater productivity losses. And, sicker individuals are more expensive to treat, adding to company healthcare costs.
When I decided to launch First Stop Health, I thought hard about the underlying dynamics of our health system and productivity. One of my goals was to build a service that would—without question—lead to measurable employer healthcare cost savings and improve employee productivity.
I was convinced there when it comes to healthcare and productivity, in the employee benefits area, we could create “a free lunch.”
Our Era of Rationed Care
Today’s healthcare system has evolved around the general principle of rationed care: A visit to the doctor is expensive; Typically involves a long wait and time away from work; And a doctor is only consulted when a patient is clearly sick. Indeed, how often have you heard a family member or co-worker say, “I am not sick enough to see the doctor.”
For employers, this “rationed care” model means that employees are, in effect, not encouraged to do everything possible to stay healthy and productive.
With First Stop Health, I set out to create a business that operated on a principle that was the opposite of rationed care. I wanted our company, our clients and their employees to all prosper when employees sought treatment as early as possible. We could not provide preventive care, but we could provide the most convenient, inexpensive, access to quality healthcare possible.
First Stop Health: Increased Productivity with Each Call
Employees who are getting sick will agree that they are not operating at their best. Nonetheless, they generally resist seeing a doctor for familiar reasons:
- With high copays or deductibles, the visits can be expensive.
- Doctor visits are inconvenient.
- Employees “who are not sick enough” feel they may be wasting time and money. If the doctor concludes they are fine, they have needlessly paid for the visit and taken time away from work.
At First Stop Health, we created an entirely different service model:
- We want employees to call our doctors for a virtual consultation, even if their symptoms are minimal.
- Our objective is to ensure employee illnesses are caught and treated as soon as possible, minimizing lost productivity and the overall cost of treatment.
- Covered employees, and their families, can call our doctors as often as they wish, at no cost per call. With unlimited no-charge consultations, we encourage early treatment.
- Convenience is central to our service: Covered employees and their families can consult a First Stop Health doctor on a few minutes notice: 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So, employees don’t need to miss work for a virtual consultation with a First Stop Health doctor.
The net result of our efforts is that we are the telemedicine engagement company. Our industry leading average usage is 50% across all our employer groups, and we believe this usage is approximately seven times the industry average.
As the telemedicine engagement company, we are also the employee productivity company. Our high usage means employees are treated faster, stay healthier, remain productive, and miss fewer work days: All because they are encouraged not to wait “until they are sick enough” to see the doctor.
Higher Productivity is Free
I often assess a company by how strongly it guarantees the success of its product or service. It makes me proud that at First Stop Health, we provide a savings guarantee that is unrivaled in the telemedicine industry.
At our 50% average usage rate, our clients generate a high ROI when avoided healthcare costs are compared to the expense of our service. What’s even more gratifying is that these high ROI calculations omit the increased productivity savings our service also generates. In today’s chaotic healthcare environment, I feel productive knowing that we are helping employees everywhere maintain their own health and productivity.