Why online doctors and GP helplines are a win/win for you and your employees

One million people a week cannot get an appointment with a GP and long waiting times have been on the increase in recent years.

With the number of people working excessive hours rising by 15% in recent years, it’s understandable that many employees feel they simply don’t have the time to go to the doctors.

When your employees are able to get an appointment, they may have to take time off work to attend. In a survey by the Telegraph in 2017, 24% admitted the most likely reason to take a day off work would be for a doctor’s appointment. In a 2019 poll, Benenden Health discovered that seven in 10 workers think their local doctors’ surgery should increase its opening hours to improve accessibility.

You can find out more about how to manage a multigenerational workforce and their wellbeing needs by downloading our free employer’s guide today.

How to offer quick access to a doctor

Employers could help alleviate this issue by providing access to a private GP telephone and video consultations. In a 2016 CIPD report looking into absence management, only 7% of organisations surveyed provided employees with access to private GP services, yet offering such a service could be very valuable to employees.

Many services also support 24/7 helplines. Some offer e-consultations, which provide employees access to face-to-face video consultations during normal surgery hours (usually 8.30am to 6.30pm). Research shows that over half of young workers prefer a digital GP, with interest growing in other age groups too.

So how do online doctor and GP helplines work?

Online doctors and GP telephone helplines provide employees with more convenient access to a GP from anywhere in the world. This means that employees don’t have to spend time trying to book an appointment or taking time off work to see a GP in person. Instead, they're able to get the advice they need at a time that’s convenient for them.

Appointments can also take place via a video call if employees would prefer a face–to-face consultation.

Possible uses of a telephone or video GP consultation service includes:

  • Discussion and treatment for everyday illnesses such as allergies, flu, skin conditions, sickness and diarrhoea, back problems or sports injuries

  • Provide a diagnosis, advice and a clear course of action

  • Open private referral to a specialist should the GP feel you require further investigation

  • Private prescription services – if the GP feels you would benefit from prescription medication, the GP can arrange and electronically authorise private prescription medication to be delivered to your work or home address

What are the benefits of a helpline?

Employees will be able to query health concerns conveniently and efficiently without the hassle of having to arrange and travel to their doctors surgery. This will allow them to confidently manage their health. According to an ACAS report, promoting good health helps workers “lead full and satisfying lives”. Providing employees with such a service will also help them to feel valued by the company too.

Many employees could be struggling with their health without your knowledge. A 2019 Benenden Health survey found that one in five people who suffer from a chronic medical condition have kept it a secret from their employer. With 24/7 telephone consultations employees are able to speak to a doctor at a time that is convenient to them, which could be outside of working hours. This means employees can speak privately at a time to suit them.

What are the benefits for employers in offering a helpline?

First and foremost, helping employees manage their health and promoting wellbeing is an admirable goal for any business. Healthy employees are more likely to be productive, happy and feel appreciated by the business, which in turn will help with staff retention rates. Having a healthy workforce also means less time off and presenteeism, as well.

Getting early diagnosis and treatment is also crucial in avoiding long-term sickness. according to the Telegraph survey, 52% of employees delayed seeking medical advice as they were worried about taking time off work. By providing access to a GP at a convenient time, employees can get the help they need before their health issues get worse.

Many healthcare providers offer this service in a straightforward individual flat fee. This means the employee can use the service however much they need and the cost remains the same. Providing care in this way is financially clear and cost-effective for the business.

How to get started in offering a helpline

The typical costs for one video or telephone consultation with a private GP could be up to £30 for 10 minutes, with additional costs for extra time spent. But, with Benenden Health’s Healthcare for Business, which is only £10.25 per employee, per month, employees are able to access GP telephone consultations 24/7 as often as they need.

Our helplines are staffed with qualified GPs and employees can access them from anywhere in the world, 24 hours per day and 365 days a year. Our services also include access to a face-to-face video consultation service if preferred, which can be scheduled between 8.30am – 6.30pm Monday to Friday.

How do mental health helplines work?

It’s not just physical health concerns that affect employees. A statistic often quoted is that one in four adults will experience a mental illness at some point each year, therefore it’s important to support employees suffering with a mental health condition as well. Our Mental Health Helpline is available with Healthcare for Business, once your employee has been a member for 6 months, and is staffed with qualified therapists who are available 24/7 to discuss a range of issues from bereavement to anxiety.

So, if you’re keen to boost staff morale and productivity while lowering absenteeism, it could be worth considering offering access to a 24/7 GP or mental health helpline. Not only will you help your employees better manager their health, but you’ll be rewarded with a healthier, happier and more productive workforce in the process.

Got a question and want to know more? Call us FREE on 0800 414 8179 today or download our health and wellbeing services brochure