As a front-line emergency physician for 30 years, I can tell you, the pandemic changed everything. COVID really shined a light on the need for more accessible healthcare services. virtual care, also known as telemedicine, has emerged as a crucial tool in providing convenient and affordable healthcare to patients. 

The pandemic showed us that virtual care works and patients really embraced it out of necessity. This brings up quintessential questions for quick-service restaurants: can the benefits of virtual care include owner/operator employees? Is telemedicine the secret weapon you’ve been looking for to attract and retain your shift managers and crew? Can providing virtual care save you a significant amount of money on recruitment and retention? Let’s investigate using a virtual care model to attract talent and preserve your valuable human capital.

Why are quick-service restaurants struggling with staffing? To start, it’s a tight labor market out there. There are more job openings than available workers, which means there is more competition than ever. Employers are constantly looking for ways to stand out in a competitive job market. Offering virtual care as part of an employee benefits package can give employers a significant advantage in recruitment. According to a recent survey (conducted by Mercer, a global consulting firm), 59 percent of employees said they would choose a job with telemedicine benefits over one without. Additionally, 80 percent of employees said that having virtual care as a benefit would positively impact their decision to stay with their current employer.

Why? Well for most quick-service restaurants, the large majority of employees decline buying health insurance. By having the employer add a virtual concierge service with no cost to the employee, the workers and their families now have access to a physician 24/7. This may be the first time these employees have ever had access to healthcare and it’s free, unlimited and the time to reach a physician is within minutes.

Virtual care also allows employees to access healthcare services without having to take time off work, which can be a significant selling point for job seekers. For example, an employee who is able to schedule a virtual appointment during their lunch break is less likely to miss work or have to use up vacation time. This flexibility can be especially attractive to quick-service restaurants workers juggling busy lives and family responsibilities.

Additionally, telemedicine can help employers recruit candidates who may live in remote areas with limited access to healthcare services. Offering virtual care allows employers to provide convenient access to healthcare regardless of their geographic location.

Retaining employees is just as important as recruiting them. Telemedicine can be a powerful tool for employers to keep their workforce healthy, happy, and productive, which ultimately leads to higher retention rates. According to a study by Willis Towers Watson, employees who have access to virtual care are more likely to take advantage of preventive services, such as flu shots and wellness screenings. This access addresses potential health issues early on, preventing more serious problems down the line.

Telemedicine can also reduce healthcare costs for both employers and employees. A virtual visit is significantly less expensive than an in-person visit to the urgent care, ER, or doctor’s office. This can help lower healthcare costs for both the employer and employee, which leads to higher job satisfaction and lower turnover rates.

Telemedicine can improve employee satisfaction. According to a survey by the National Business Group on Health, 90 percent of employees who used telemedicine were satisfied with their experience. By offering virtual care as an employee benefit, employers can demonstrate that they value their employees’ well-being and are willing to invest in their health. All of this decreases turnover, which can significantly affect quick-service restaurants’ bottom line. The Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell estimates that the cost of turnover for restaurants averages around $5,864 per front-line employee.

Some telemedicine providers include other valuable services, such as ordering labs and X-rays, behavioral health for counseling and psychiatry, occupation injury triage (which helps with your workman’s comp costs), pharmacy savings, and healthcare navigation. These added features make virtual xare an essential benefit and not just nice to have. Employees then count on this service, which truly retains your talent and lowers your turnover.

Quick-service restaurants with telemedicine can experience reduced absenteeism and increased productivity. When employees have access to convenient and free health care, they are less likely to miss work and more likely to seek treatment for minor illnesses, reducing the risk of spreading contagious diseases to other employees. Truth is, getting care from the convenience of your home beats going to a crowded and expensive emergency department any day of the week.

In conclusion, virtual care can be a powerful tool for recruiting and retaining employees. By offering this benefit, owners demonstrate that they care about their employees’ well-being and are willing to invest in their health. The result is a crew that is more productive, fulfilled, and loyal.

Glen McCracken MD, MBA is an Emergency Medicine Physician with 30 years clinical experience in Scottsdale Arizona. A telemedicine pioneer who started his Telemedicine and Virtual Care experience in 2009. Founder of evisit and current Chief Medical Officer of

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