Occasional Absenteeism and Lost Productivity

Low back pain…
Cold, Cough, Flu….
Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu)

Image courtesy of Pixabay and frolicsomepl

Image courtesy of Pixabay and frolicsomepl

What do these ailments have in common? These are the frequently cited reasons for occasional absenteeism and lost productivity in the workplace, followed closely by childcare responsibilities and on-the-job injuries.

As an immediate care physician in the Portland area over the last seven years, I’ve seen thousands of patients with illnesses resulting in occasional absenteeism and lost productivity at work; there are thousands more that have tried to squeeze an urgent care visit into their lunch break. I’m writing this post to explain some of the employee and employer benefits of timely access to healthcare services particularly for businesses with less than 50 employees. Big employers can afford to staff on-site clinics as an employee benefit while small businesses can’t.

A recent patient comes to mind. The project manager of a local manufacturing company came down with fevers and a bad sore throat with an important deadline looming in 10 days. This, also, marked the beginning of a big family vacation, which was no coincidence. We all know that most sore throats are caused by viruses (actually 90%) and will resolve within 5 to 7 days. A little rest, fluids, saltwater gargles and some ibuprofen can help. He had already been to the immediate care twice in the last week. The first time it was thought that he had a virus and the second time, it was suggested he start a course of antibiotics, but he wanted to wait a little longer. Now, he was desperate with only three more days before the deadline and the start of his family vacation. I work closely with the other providers and they are very capable. However, sometimes there are gray areas when it comes to diagnosis and treatment decisions. His persistent fevers and lack of improvement made it clear he needed treatment for strep throat.

Does your small business have problems with occasional absenteeism and decreased productivity because of illness? Have your employees had trouble accessing or affording care when they really need it? When is an employee really contagious? You don’t want them getting everyone else sick, not to mention your customers!

The Affordable Care Act of 2012 excluded businesses with less than 50 employees from having to contribute to their employees’ health insurance. Some employees will have no health insurance, or may have purchased high deductible health care plans resulting in out-of-pocket payments of up to $1750 and more before their health insurance kicks in.

With TapCare, employees can receive direct access to my services using a mobile device or PC, get their questions answered, and even get treatment for over 40 common medical problems. There is a $59 charge and that includes follow-up questions for three weeks after the initial encounter, 8am – 5pm Monday through Friday. I can, also, help them find a regular physician near their home or recommend a specialist if needed at no extra charge.


Julius Wyllie of TapCare

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