Founder and CEO of Now Healthcare Group, Lee Dentith, discusses new research focusing on the effect of staff sickness on UK businesses.
Since founding Now Healthcare Group back in 2014, one of our main areas of focus has been on how digital health services can be utilised to have a positive impact on the ongoing problem of staff sickness and employee absence here in the United Kingdom.
The latest research from Britain’s Healthiest Workplace (BHW) has found that UK employers are losing a staggering 27.5 days of productive work per employee every year as a result of ill health. If you were to put a figure on the monetary value of this loss, you’d find that staff absence and the problem of presenteeism costs the UK economy a huge £73 billion per year.
CEO & Founder of Now GP’s parent company Now Healthcare Group, Lee Dentith, discusses how digital healthcare can significantly improve employee wellbeing and reduce employer costs.
To some, the link between digital healthcare services and the workplace might not be quite as obvious as the former’s link with the NHS. The National Health Service is crying out for the adoption of tech in order to ease the burden on the system, whereas businesses might not always consider employee healthcare as a top priority. However, the benefits of digital healthcare for both employees and employers cannot be underestimated. Here are several ways that digital healthcare can transform the workplace.
Reduce staff sickness through early intervention
This is where employers start to sit up and take note – you may be surprised to hear that staff sickness costs businesses in the UK a staggering £29 BILLION each year, with over 130 working days lost annually. Unfortunately, there is an overlap here with the NHS’ current problems – when employees start to feel unwell, they are left with lengthy waits to see a doctor (the average waiting time for a GP appointment currently stands at 13 days), in which time their illness has already escalated. This forces them to stay home and take sick days.
Digital health apps, which connect patients to doctors and nurses remotely within minutes, ensure that potential illness is tackled as soon as possible, eliminating the need for numerous sick days and the avoiding hassle of taking time off work to attend appointments.
Medicines delivered to the office
Our health apps (Now GP/Dr Now) include medicine delivery directly to an employee’s home or office address. This allows users to connect to a doctor remotely when they first wake up feeling under the weather, receive a professional diagnosis and – in some locations – have the medicine on their desk by lunchtime. It’s all part of making healthcare quicker and more convenient for people, intervening early and stopping sickness as soon as it begins to strike.
Combat the problem of presenteeism
While some employees may take time off when they are too ill to work, there are others – 68%, to be precise – who will continue to go to work even if they are unwell. While some may read this as a good thing, it’s actually the opposite – presenteeism, as it’s known, is a serious problem for UK businesses and sees sickness spread throughout the office, taking down an entire bank, team or even division in a matter of days.
Again, poor access to NHS appointments is a major cause of this as people simply can’t afford to take weeks off work. By providing employees with digital health access through mHealth service or white-labelled apps, they can be seen quickly and efficiently, and receive fit notes and fit to work certificates on the same day to determine whether they can come into the office risk-free.
Mental health benefits
9 in 10 major US employers are expected to turn to telehealth within the next year, and we need to see a similar uptake in the UK. An area which has incredible potential is mental health – conditions such as stress and workplace anxiety affect 25% of all employees in the UK, with many feeling uncomfortable discussing it with their employer. By providing remote access to counselling services remotely, employees are just a few taps away from chatting to a professional when things get a bit too much.
The sky is the limit when it comes to the adoption of digital healthcare in the workplace. It’s anticipated that 97% of all large US companies will offer telehealth in some form to their employees by 2019, and I’m hopeful that the UK can follow its lead in this field. Whether it’s simply providing employees with better access to appointments, or utilising the latest wearable technology to monitor sickness trends and safeguard against the spread of sickness, digital healthcare no doubt has a major role to play in the future of workplace wellbeing.
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