How Telemedicine Improves Employee Productivity

April 22, 2022

Emily Kunisch

Absenteeism costs employers between $2,660 and $3,600 per employee each year.1 The main causes of employee absenteeism include but are not limited to illnesses, injuries and mental health conditions.

So how can an employer better support their employees and boost productivity? The answer is virtual care. According to Forbes, “companies large and small should lean into telehealth as a way to support employee wellness and productivity, reduce absenteeism and protect the bottom line.”2 It’s clear that a healthy employee makes for a productive employee.  

In today’s workforce, there are many pressures to get care. Whether it’s avoiding missed workdays, inconvenience or high costs, employees are less likely to seek care – ultimately affecting their own and their employer’s productivity. Telemedicine is a great resource to support employees’ mental and physical health. Here are some of the major causes of productivity loss and how telemedicine can make a difference. 

Presenteeism  

Presenteeism is the phenomenon of working while coping with an illness or injury that results in loss of productivity. The pressure to work and avoid a missed workday when sick not only spreads ailments but employees who are not functioning at their best are more “distracted at work by underlying health conditions [and] are more likely to make mistakes or errors in judgement.”3  

Moreover, as employees get sicker, they cost the business even more. Longer absences lead to greater productivity losses. And sicker individuals are more expensive to treat, adding to company healthcare costs. 

Telemedicine can quickly connect patients with a doctor to help find treatment faster and avoid missed workdays. By being available 24/7, telemedicine is always available to patients and saves them time and money. Plus, there should be no limits on the number of telemedicine consultations for ongoing issues, so a patient can always access a doctor. 

Cost  

Anyone getting sick will agree that they are not operating at their best. Nonetheless, they generally resist seeing a doctor because of high copayments or deductibles. The visits can be expensive and benefits programs can be confusing. According to American Family Care, “on average, urgent care visits cost between $100 and $200” and “ER visits can cost upwards of over $1,000 a visit, with an average visit costing between $1,200 and $1,300.”4 

A telemedicine solution should be little-to-no cost to an employee and there should not be a limit on the number of doctor visits. Telemedicine’s all-access saves patients money while keeping them out of germy waiting rooms. By avoiding costly copayments or deductibles, employees are more inclined to take care of their illnesses, making for a healthier, happier workforce and better productivity. Plus, telemedicine helps employers' cost savings since claims are not billed through the insurance plan to drive higher premiums. 

Inconvenience  

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. Today’s healthcare system has evolved around the general principle of rationed care: A visit to the doctor is expensive and typically involves a long wait and time away from work – only to end with a brief doctor-patient interaction.  

For employers, this “rationed care” model means that employees are, in effect, not encouraged to do everything possible to stay healthy and productive. And the consequences of not seeking care could be catastrophic. 

Employees are less likely to seek care because of the inconvenience of scheduling, waiting and other personal deterrents like transportation and childcare. Telemedicine meets people where they are and should, on average, connect a patient with a doctor in less than 10 minutes. Patients can take their telemedicine consultation in the comfort of their own space, making it the most convenient care option. When employees have better access to quality care, productivity improves in the workplace.  

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Sources:  

  1. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/070513/causes-and-costs-absenteeism.asp 
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/11/02/its-time-to-go-all-in-on-telehealth/?sh=71d01d4b11d7 
  3. https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/356480/Worker_Presenteeism_White_Paper.pdf 
  4. https://www.afcurgentcare.com/blog/cost-of-urgent-care-vs-cost-of-er-visit/ 

Originally published Apr 22, 2022 1:00:00 PM.