How Virtual Primary Care Supports Employers & Their Employees

August 17, 2022

Emily Kunisch

Primary care allows trusted doctors to provide high-quality healthcare to patients — including preventive treatment, medication management, and support for chronic disease and whole-person wellness. The American Academy of Family Physicians defines primary care as “health care services that are person-centered, team-based, community-aligned and designed to achieve better health, better care and lower costs.”1  

Routine visits with a PCP (primary care physician) can decrease healthcare costs significantly. However, the issue lies with usage. More than 60% of Americans either don’t have or don’t use their primary care physician.2 Personal barriers such as cost, travel, time off work or arranging childcare deter people from seeking care. A PCP shortage is also a barrier to getting care with the national wait time to see a PCP averaging 24 days.3 

Virtual primary care removes these barriers and offers patients access to convenient healthcare, encouraging usage to save on healthcare costs down the line. 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.”4 Here’s how virtual care can support employers and their workforce:  

Recruitment & Retention 

Virtual care has become the preferred healthcare delivery model for many workers. In fact, 40% of millennials (75% of the workforce by 2025) believe telemedicine is an extremely important part of an employee benefits package.5 On top of that, more than 70% of younger generations said they prefer virtual care because of convenience while 44% said they may switch healthcare providers if virtual care visits aren’t offered.6 

Employers are recognizing the importance of virtual care offerings within their benefits packages. In a recent survey of employers of various group sizes, two thirds of respondents said they are planning to improve their virtual care offerings in order to attract and retain employees in 2023.7  

Lowering Healthcare Costs  

50% of Americans live with a chronic disease, in turn accounting for 86% of claims costs for employers.8,9  According to the CDC, chronic diseases “cost US employers $36.4 billion a year because of employees missing days of work.”10 Chronic disease can be directly targeted and mediated by effective virtual primary care. 

Additionally, employers have "a major savings opportunity” if they prioritize preventive care, according to an Integrated Health Benefits study.11 With preventive care, chronic diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes, may be caught and avoided with regular tests and screenings requested by virtual primary care doctors.   

Financial modeling published in the Annals of Family Medicine estimated that if every American used a primary care physician (PCP) as their usual source of care, it would save the nation $67 billion dollars per year.12 A recent state-led program promoting primary care also revealed that for every $1 spent on primary care, $13 was saved in downstream healthcare costs.13 

Reducing Absenteeism  

Absenteeism costs employers between $2,600 and $3,600 per employee each year.14 A new emphasis on virtual care offers employees a more enjoyable healthcare experience, incentivizing them to prioritize their health. In turn, this helps employers manage a healthier, happier and more productive workforce. Today, individuals who receive primary care experience 33% lower healthcare costs, 23% lower absenteeism and 6% increase in productivity.15,16 Reducing absenteeism with a virtual care solution also boosts workforce productivity.  

First Stop Health (FSH) Virtual Primary Care 

FSH virtual care aids in recruiting and retaining employees, lowering healthcare costs and helping employees throughout their unique healthcare journeys. Virtual Primary Care is comprised of urgent care, preventive care and chronic care. Urgent care is available to members 24/7 for non-emergency, episodic health issues. Preventive care encompasses routine check-ups and lab or screening referrals to track overall health. Chronic care is the treatment and maintenance of ongoing health conditions such as diabeteshigh blood pressure or obesity. By integrating these 3 care areas, FSH helps members with whole-person wellness from the comfort of wherever they are in life. Plus, there are no costs or predefined limits on the number of visits for members.   

 

  1. https://www.aafp.org/about/policies/all/primary-care.html 
  2. https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2020/02/18/primary-care 
  3. https://medcitynews.com/2017/12/patients-waiting/ 
  4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/11/02/its-time-to-go-all-in-on-telehealth/?sh=71d01d4b11d7 
  5. https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/millennials-demand-telehealth-move-away-traditional-primary-care-model 
  6. https://www.aha.org/aha-center-health-innovation-market-scan/2021-06-29-there-may-be-generation-gap-virtual%20cares-future 
  7. https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/payers/employers-center-access-affordability-they-mull-2023-benefits-mercer 
  8. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/279084 
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7077778/ 
  10. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/workplace-health.htm#:~:text=Five%20chronic%20diseases%20or%20risk,employees%20missing%20days%20of%20work 
  11. https://www.hrdive.com/news/preventative-care-a-major-savings-opportunity-for-employers-nonprofit-sa/584844/ 
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1466777/ 
  13. https://www.oregon.gov/oha/HPA/dsi-pcpch/Documents/PCPCH-Program-Implementation-Report-Final-Sept-2016.pdf 
  14. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/070513/causes-and-costs-absenteeism.asp 
  15. https://www.commonwealthfund.org/sites/default/files/documents/___media_files_publications_health_reform_and_you_health_reform_primary_care_612.pdf 
  16. https://napcrg.org/media/1197/primary-care_2017_11-16.pdf 

Originally published Aug 17, 2022 7:20:33 PM.