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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CEO & Founder of Now GP’s parent company Now Healthcare Group, Lee Dentith, discusses encouraging findings concerning telehealth as an employee benefit in the United States.
As the UK’s National Health Service continues to creak under ever-increasing pressure and strain, across the pond in the United States there are encouraging signs that the long-awaited telehealth revolution is beginning to gather significant pace.
A new study compiled by the National Business Group on Health (NBG) surveyed 133 large American businesses, who between them employ over 15 million Americans. The results were incredibly encouraging for our industry, indicating that nine out of ten large employers are intending to make telehealth services available to their employees next year.
This is up 20% on last year’s figures, and is a significant indication that telehealth availability is well and truly on the rise as a high priority employee benefit.
“Employers’ focus in 2017 is shifting away from plan design to optimising how healthcare is accessed and delivered. That translates into expanded telehealth services, more Centers of Excellence options and optional selective network choices that focus on providing higher quality healthcare.”
Brian Marcotte, President & CEO of National Business Group on Health
I’ve recently been based in the States on business, and I can confirm that telehealth and mHealth solutions are very much high on the agenda for a number of major organisations. This shift is undoubtedly motivated by an attempt to offset a rise in overall healthcare costs for employers, and provide workers with cost-effective, convenient and accessible care.
NBG states that, should this current trend continue, over 97% of large employers will offer telehealth and remote healthcare services to their employees by 2019. Bear in mind that in 2014 this figure was at just 22%, it shows just how beneficial this technology is proving for both employers and employees.
In the UK employee sickness absence continues to be an ongoing problem. It’s something that collectively costs UK businesses £29 billion each year, with over 130 million working days lost to sickness annually. Poor access to services and lengthy waiting times are of course significant contributing factors to these alarming figures.
We’re starting to see companies begin to embrace mobile healthcare solutions on a similar level to that in the United States, allowing organisations such as ours to provide employers with a cost-effective employee benefit service, and employees with convenient and reliable healthcare access. Now Healthcare Group‘s aim is to eliminate sickness days through early intervention, giving people access to a professional medical opinion when they need one and preventing illness from getting worse by tackling it in its earliest stages.
We’ve already teamed up with a number of businesses to provide our services to their staff, with great results. It’s an exciting time to be involved in this ever-growing industry, and we’re confident that mHealth is well on its way to becoming the must-have employee benefit right here in the UK.
Now GP’s video consultation system is one of several benefits offered to businesses through Medex Protect’s new ‘Sick Pay Protect’ scheme.
Now GP, the medical diagnostic branch of Now Healthcare Group, is partnering with medical insurance company Medex Protect to provide businesses with a new type of insurance cover to help manage sickness absence and gain reimbursements of statutory sick pay (SSP) payments.
A company at the forefront of medical insurance development, Medex Protect has created Sick Pay Protect to grant businesses access to a unique policy designed to combine the benefits of effective absence management with greater financial freedom and assurance.
The Sick Pay Protect policy will refund SSP contributions to businesses for up to 28 weeks if employees are absent from work for a minimum of seven days. It includes effective risk management via embedded pre-commencement screening, online risk assessments and access to Now GP’s state-of-the-art online remote video consultation primary healthcare service to grant employees instant access to a GP.
Jason Dunks, commercial director of Medex Protect, said:
“Access to private GP appointments on a same day basis will not only be a valued benefit to scheme members, it will reduce absence costs for the employer associated with the positive benefits derived from prompt access to primary care support at the outset of an illness.”
Now GP is the world’s first mobile app to provide those unwell with a remote consultation with a professionally-certified GP and the delivery of medicines directly to their home or office. Established with both technology and medical knowledge in mind, the platform brings a wealth of benefits to businesses and HR departments looking to provide their employees with a benefit-in-kind free health service to help take the hassle out of healthcare and reduce staff sickness.
Employee absence costs UK businesses collectively £29 billion each year, with Now GP acting as an effective solution for short-term staff sickness. Patients are able to speak to an MRCGP-certified GP at a time to suit them, with medicines delivered overnight or in as little as two hours in central London.
CEO and Founder of Now GP and its parent company Now Healthcare Group, Lee Dentith, said of the new partnership:
“Now GP is delighted to be working alongside Medex Protect to offer UK businesses an effective primary care solution as part of the company’s new innovative absence management product. Instant access to a GP is the key to tackling the issue of short-term sickness in the workplace and we look forward to working on this exciting project in the coming months.”
Business in the UK is changing, and has been for some time. Gone are the days of work finishing when you leave the office at 5pm – thanks to the growth of smartphones, tablets and cloud servers, remote working and a blended work and home life are now commonplace for millions of employees, from businesses of all sizes and of all industries. In the modern day competitive marketplace, time is money, and businesses today need to maximise their time in order to stay ahead of the game, both financially and in terms of productivity.
Why the UK Needs mHealth
For UK businesses, one issue which continues to plague employers and drain valuable resources is the problem of staff sickness absence. Today’s employee may not necessarily live near a local clinic, may work out of town, or may regularly be away for business trips. When they inevitably fall ill, getting seen by a GP can be a major difficulty.
150,000 patients who turned up to A&E in London last year were not even registered with a GP, and those that are can often face a two week wait to see their doctor. People can’t afford to take this amount of time off work to see a GP, or are unable to get an appointment in the first place. So, the employee battles through and comes into work anyway – leading to the spread of sickness and a severe deterioration of your company’s productivity. In total, staff absence costs UK businesses an incredible £29 billion each year – and it’s a number which will continue to grow unless companies take a stand and seek an alternative solution to their healthcare.
Now GP connects users to an MRCGP-certified GP, who is UK-based, at the touch of a button
How it Works
The Now GP platform has been created to alleviate the pressure on our National Health Service by giving patients instant access to a GP consultation via their smartphone device. We’ve opened up our innovative mHealth solution to businesses of all sizes to ensure that employees across the country can get the primary healthcare attention they need, when they need it.
The United Kingdom is a key adopter of solutions such as mHealth, telehealth and telemedicine, with an approximate spend of £252 million to be confirmed by the end of 2015. Now GP, an mHealth platform devised and developed by Now Healthcare Group, connects users to an MRCGP-certified GP, who is UK-based, at the touch of a button. On top of this, we offer the delivery of medicines directly to a patient’s home or office, with a whole host of corporate benefits available to those businesses who take up our healthcare solution.
A Number of Corporate Benefits
Our state-of-the-art reporting software and management reporting systems can provide businesses with strategic insight into sickness absence levels, site by site, department by department. By calculating weaknesses in your workplace, the months when your staff are most at risk and the causes of staff illness, you can help to safeguard against both the spread of sickness and the extensive costs that absence can cause. We also provide staff with medical care that, unlike other private medical insurance (PMI) plans, doesn’t count as benefit-in-kind: this makes us a cost-effective alternative to PMI which saves money for both employer and employee.
74% of businesses in the United States are predicted to offer telemedicine and mHealth services to their staff by as early as 2016, and the UK must follow suit in order to continue to meet the continued healthcare demands of employees. Integration in the workplace means that employers can use key measures to monitor and assess the success of their mHealth investment, based on the quality of the clinical services provided, the improved rate of productivity, employee satisfaction and the ongoing innovation and integration.
The potential of mHealth as an employee benefit is clearly there for all to see. As the NHS continues to struggle to meet its growing demands, more and more businesses will need to explore the incredible benefits that can be offered to both employers and employees. Now GP is proud to be at the forefront of this exciting opportunity.