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Use Telehealth to Zap the Cost of Sick Days

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

Next time you hear an obviously ill employee sneeze, grab the tissues—then use them to dry your own tears, because your bottom line is about to take a hit. Sick days and chronic illnesses cost your hospital or health system productivity and benefits dollars. But there is the potential for relief from a simple addition to your wellness program, in the form of telehealth.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that cardiovascular diseases and stroke account for $39.1 billion in lost productivity due to sickness or disability. An addition $122.4 billion in productivity is lost due to premature death. Asthma alone cost U.S. businesses $5 billion in 2011.

Chronic health issues have staggering financial consequences nationally. For instance, "full-time workers in the U.S. who are overweight or obese and have other chronic health conditions miss an estimated 450 million additional days of work each year compared with healthy workers—resulting in an estimated cost of more than $153 billion in lost productivity annually," according to the 2011 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

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