Can telemedicine boost the health of Britain’s workforce?

Can telemedicine boost the health of Britain’s workforce?

With sick days costing the UK economy £100bn a year and the average waiting time to see a GP having risen to 2 weeks, it is no wonder that employee sickness has become a real issue for UK businesses.

Health is the greatest benefit a company can offer their employees and the introduction of an online GP service within the workplace can help to create a healthier and more productive workforce as well as begin to reduce the cost of the nation’s employee sick bill.

According to a People in Management survey last year, 70 per cent of people said they called in sick to work due to minor illness, highlighting a huge amount of people who are absent when they don’t need to be and who could get back to work sooner if they could see a doctor, quickly and from the comfort of their own desktop or device.

There is now an ever-growing portfolio of apps and digital solutions being presented by health-tech companies to help to tackle the long waiting times for patients, reduce the pressure on the NHS and offer on-demand access to a doctor at the touch of a button, helping to get employees healthier, quicker and I’m proud to be at the helm of one of the UK and Ireland’s biggest health providers.

A PC solution

In reality, many of us are already regularly using technology to access healthcare. Telemedicine can be defined in a number of ways, for example, patients might say that if they make a phone call to the GP surgery and receive an instant “solution” either over the phone or by sending an email, then that is telemedicine because you are using technology through your phone or PC to seek medical advice.

Currently, video consultations are less widely used but (as we’ve seen in highly successful models in the US and Ireland) it is a practice which can help to eliminate waiting times, provide patients with an immediate diagnosis or second opinion and, when introduced into the workplace, can drastically help to reduce absenteeism. It’s an exciting phenomenon that HR directors and all employers can ill-afford to ignore.

A recent study we conducted at VideoDoc showed that 52 per cent of people had delayed seeking medical advice because they were worried about taking time off work, a stat that rose to 70 per cent amongst people working in London.

The use of telemedicine in the workplace can reduce this problem as employees will have access to a doctor at all times. And, for HR directors or business owners who are thinking introducing this to employees, I would highly recommend finding an area which would be a quiet and private environment for an employee to have their video consultation.

Health and productivity

For employees, there are many advantages of using telehealth services. They no longer have to take time off work for GP appointments, feel frustrated waiting for slots to become available, travel to their surgery, which may be some distance from work, or arrange childcare to cover their appointments. 

And, with many telemedicine services operating seven days a week covering more than 12 hours a day, people can access immediate appointments that suit them.

Being able to see a GP within working hours through video consultations has enormous benefits for a company, not only do they have a healthy and productive workforce but it reduces the amount of pressure that other members of the team can be put under when somebody is off sick.

Although, it is important to advise that presentism can also be a problem for employers, if someone is feeling really unwell and is unable to concentrate at work, viruses and sickness can be spread around an office very quickly. In this case, I would advise encouraging your employees to stay at home and using their telehealth service from there and getting healthier quicker.

Technology has changed how we work and live. It will not only improve how we access information and monitor our health, but also how we interact with doctors. Telehealth is bringing the doctor’s house call into the 21st century, offering timely, safe and effective online healthcare services.

You can find out more about VideoDoc here


About the author

Mary O’Brien is the CEO and founder of VideoDoc.


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