Use Telehealth to Zap the Cost of Sick Days

Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media , August 6, 2012

As financial leaders know, metrics are the keys to managing margin. Ruggieri says it's essential that long-term goals and metrics be established to track the effectiveness of telemedicine. For instance, financial leaders should request quarterly reports on:

  • The number of touch points with the telemedicine provider
  • A reduction in the number of provider visits, use of specialists, and claims
  • Overall employee health improvement
  • Disease outcomes

"We know how costly it is to us when an employee sees a physician. So, if we just calculate what we save in productivity by them not going to a doctor and staying at work, it's a four-to-one rate of return. Plus then we also don't have those claims hitting our loss ratio. As a small employer, we found [telehealth] was an employee benefit that more than paid for itself," Ruggeri says.

Hospitals and health systems are incurring sizable financial losses due to employee illness every day. Healthcare staff—perhaps more than in any other industry—are more likely to be exposed to germs, as well as high levels of physical and mental stress, and a host of other factors that can lead to chronic illness. That means healthcare organizations must provide even more opportunities for their employees stay in top health. Adding a telehealth program to the benefits package can help employees without costing the organization significantly, potentially saving millions in your insurance loss ratio and in regained productivity.

Karen Minich-Pourshadi is a Senior Editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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