payment by the client,” she explains. RTCHS offers its clients a wide array of services. These include, but are not limited to: health education, awareness, and training; HIV counselling and testing (HCT) and wellness screening at the employer’s premises; a 24-hour medical call centre; an EAP (psychosocial, legal, financial); absenteeism, incapacity and disability management; clinical case management of chronic diseases of lifestyle and HIV/AIDS and TB; clinical care, including visits to doctors, pathology tests and drugs; courier drug delivery to an address of the patient’s choice; an executive wellness programme; health consulting and policy development; health benefit management and administration; and claims management, data management and reporting.
Healthy employees make for increased productivityWhen one looks at the service offerings of RTCHS, they are targeted mainly at the workplace. However, Dr Xulu maintains that there are external factors that are critical to workplace productivity as much as they are important to general health. “How an employee behaves, eats and lives both in and out of the workplace affects their productivity, mental health, and attendance at work, and can impact on sick leave usage for example,” she reveals. Such behaviour often affects the financial viability of the employer. In an effort to combat this and other issues, RTCHS started offering health risk assessments to employers in 2009. The results of the assessments have been an eye-opener for many employers, she indicates. “The results show an upward trend in some of the indicators for chronic lifestyle diseases such as blood glucose levels and body mass index [BMI]. The increasing weight of employees not only has a significant impact on an individual’s health, but also on productivity and absences and can lead to occupational health and safety issues,” she points out.
RTCHS is always considering innovative ways to improve the client’s experience, as innovation is a critical part of how it delivers on services, whether on-site at a testing event or in the feedback process, shares Dr Xulu. A case in point, she indicates, is the implementation of new software that allows RTCHS case managers to quickly connect with those individuals who have tested HIV positive and thus provide company clients with efficient and accurate feedback from on-site events. An interesting aspect of this is a mobile device which nurses use to capture, on-site at the time of testing, different types of test results such as HCT, wellness, TB screening, and lifestyle. Dr Xulu elaborates: “These test results are captured on the device. Consent and signatures are obtained on the device and a picture of the HIV test result can be taken and then synced with our database for reporting and managerial use. The device has the added advantage that it can be used both online and offline.”
There are, points out Dr Xulu, numerous benefits of using this device and software, benefits such as the following:
Quick updates of test form details.
Preloaded eligibility lists which ensure that only eligible employees may be tested.
Only applicable information is displayed, thus ensuring that only the tests required are displayed and can be performed, that is, the employer and/or medical aid does not pay for unauthorised tests.
Only information required is captured, thereby speeding up the testing process.
Processes can be tracked, for instance RTCHS can track if, or when, the nurse arrives on site, and, on average, how long each test takes to complete.
Availability of an audit trail to track changes, updates or additions, and to ensure consistency in naming conventions.
The system can be used anywhere where there is Internet connectivity, and it has the capacity to use both web-based and desktop applications.
Further, the system ensures that a nurse refers a patient if certain conditions are met and permits a nurse to capture details of a referral, which provides a good tracking record of patient follow-up.
Passionate about workplace health
Dr Xulu and the team at RTCHS are determined to help organisations realign their focus so as to concentrate more on the health care of employees and on healthy lifestyles. “We have always been passionate about workplace health, although we started out with a specific HIV programme,” she says. “This has grown into the offering of holistic wellness programmes, and we believe that, by applying the same principles that we have done for our successful HIV programme to chronic diseases of lifestyle, we can improve not only the health of the individual employee, but also the health of the company. We are also hopeful that, by assisting employees, this will translate into healthy families and a healthy society as a whole and that we can transcend workplace boundaries.”
Health-care issues are always sensitive ones and difficult to address, particularly in the current economic climate, says Dr Xulu. “Companies are looking to be efficient and cost-effective, and, often, health-care or wellness programmes are the first to fall by the wayside. What companies don’t always consider are the hidden costs of unhealthy employees contained within sick leave, disability benefit payments and even occupational health and safety issues.” She concludes with a sneak peek into the immediate future: “We are very excited about a new project that we will be implementing in a large national company to improve awareness of wellness and the health of employees. Through pilot projects such as this one and other wellness programmes implemented with other clients, we are slowly obtaining valuable data which we can objectively analyse and translate into meaningful return on investment, that is, financial return on investment and increased productivity, decreased absenteeism, and fewer disability claims.”
A continental reach
Right to Care Health Services offers employee wellness services in all nine South African provinces and in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
An Innovative Approach to Workplace Wellness
Right to Care Health Services (RTCHS) offers a holistic, comprehensive and fully integrated health and wellness solution to employers. Corporate clients receive monthly and quarterly reports on uptake and utilisation, as well as annual reports on organisational trends and prevalence, and recommended, targeted intervention strategies are put in place with their support. Cost-benefit analyses are done annually per client to demonstrate return on investment.
According to Dr Thembi Xulu, managing director of RTCHS, her organisation’s primary focus is on ensuring that employers save on the costs of absenteeism, incapacity and disability, as well as on productivity losses. “Our programme dovetails with existing employee assistance programmes [EAPs] and occupational health programmes, as well as with the medical aids to ensure that there is no double
by Andrew Ngozo