The true cost of health screening
Recently, we have been advising a number of health care and public facilities who are working hard to ensure the health of their staff and visitors. They have often asked how they can justify investing in an automated triage and screening solution for a relatively short term health crisis. Our belief is that there will need to be a focus on hygiene beyond this Covid-19 pandemic as sadly this isn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last virus to disrupt our world.
That said, to help them evaluate their options we explored the costs of hiring staff to do health screening versus using an Elenium HealthGate Podium to check vital signs and ask standard heath questions.
We explored using nursing staff to fulfil this function in a hospital as well as a person working on minimum wage in Australia at a public facility over a year period.
Frontline worker in a public facility
If the employee, at minimum wage, spends 25% of their time checking temperature, the cost to the business is 51.59 AUD per person per day. As we need at least 2 people for the full week in public facilities, that cost doubles to 103.18 AUD per day. We have assumed that 75% of these persons’ time is spent on other tasks like security and reception.
Qualified nurse at a hospital
If a qualified nurse is being asked to do the same task, they would have to be 100% dedicated to that task as they would not be able to do other duties while checking visitors at the front door. So, the daily cost increases to 352.04 AUD and the opportunity cost of having a trained, qualified nurse do temperature checks is a headcount that is lost to treat patients. At the same time, hospitals are a 24 hour facility and at least 3 nurses are required for every door open to the outside. The daily cost of this increases to 1056.12 AUD.
The indirect costs
During the screening process this frontline person is potentially in close contact with individuals who could be ill. Should they become infected their symptoms may not appear for another 10-14 days, potentially putting all visitors to the facility at risk. That may be hundreds or thousands of people during that time. The indirect cost of having a person instead of a kiosk may have an exponential effect on the healthcare costs and virus transmission in the community.
The podium is able to accurately check for key vital signs, increasing the detection of an unwell individual by almost 50%. It is able to ask questions to further understand the background of the individual. HealthGate can notify a staff member or connect the visitor to a remote healthcare worker, enabling the business to maintain high levels of customer experience and prevent their employees from getting in harm’s way. The anonymised data can be leveraged to help the business better understand visitor flows and the amount of time that visitors spend in their facilities. The kiosk costs approximately the equivalent of 30.00 AUD per day in the first year, decreasing significantly thereafter. HealthGate can’t get ill.
Direct and indirect costs add up
At both the public facility and the hospital, the direct cost of using a person to do front line vital sign checks are higher than investing in a kiosk. The indirect costs of putting people in harm’s way and allowing them to become a transmitter of viruses for up to 14 days are hard to measure but will have a tremendous impact on the business and potential business liability costs.