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How access to reliable primary care bolstered productivity in a call centre


According to Patrick Lubbe, chief executive officer of the National HealthCare Group, if we were to calculate the financial losses to the South African economy as a result of unchecked absenteeism, it would amount to several billion rands in lost revenue.

As shown by this case study conducted in a call centre, intervention through the introduction of affordable and reliable primary healthcare services has, in a relatively short period, decreased absenteeism from 29% to 21%. This early win resulted in a visible increase in productivity ensuring a marked reduction in staff and associated costs.


With no access to even the most basic primary healthcare services, increased absenteeism and a consequent reduction in productivity have become a reality for many employers such as the subject of this case study.

The call centre had been adversely impacted by high rates of absenteeism and a considerable loss in productivity for some time. Having determined that much of the situation was because of the ill health of its workforce, the employer set out to find an affordable healthcare option for its employees. At the time the call centre was clocking up a total of 54 employee sick days in a typical month, and it had become imperative to reduce this by at least 50% to ensure the sustainability of the business.

Initial quotes of a minimum premium of R270 per employee per month were received, amounting to a total annual cost of R550 800 for cover for all employees. The cost was totally prohibitive and National HealthCare Group was approached for a more affordable solution.

National HealthCare fully understood the critical role that the wellbeing of employees plays in contributing to the ongoing success of the company. Fortunately, we were able to reduce the annual cost of healthcare by 46% to R349 500 for the same benefits.

The network is exactly what the client needed with its guaranteed access to primary healthcare services anywhere in South Africa due to its national footprint of contracted doctors, pharmacies, radiologists and pathologists.

National HealthCare offered the prospective client a medical reimbursement account model, which was underpinned by a monthly administration fee and the provision of an initial float to cover the cost of medical claims. Thereafter, the client would only settle the value of the monthly claims. National HealthCare ensured that a sufficient number of general practitioners were on hand to provide coverage based on employee demographics. Once the contract was signed, a project plan was created which covered introductory meetings, employee communication, information days and the distribution of membership packs.

National HealthCare’s primary healthcare model has had an immediate impact on productivity and results are evident even within a fairly short period of time.

The South African work environment is more challenging and complex than ever before. Nowadays there are challenges to be faced that neither employees nor employers had ever previously dreamt of. Disease, lifestyle and other illnesses all play an intrinsic role in the wellness of staff and ultimately the productivity of the entire workforce.

Companies are increasingly realising that managing these challenges proactively can only lead to healthy and fulfilled employees, which in turn ensures better customer service and productivity and an improved bottom line.

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