Healthcare costs are rising with an 8% increase year over year. One innovative method employers are using to control costs while improving healthcare delivery is telemedicine. Telemedicine is an emerging technology field which facilitates two-way digital communications between patients and doctors. While a few years ago telemedicine was hardly on the radar of most businesses, it has become increasingly prevent in modern companies.
Since 2015, there has been a 26% increase in employers who offer these services. And according to the Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, almost 60% of America’s large employers currently provide telemedicine.
Diversifying your business’ healthcare offering will not only help you remain competitive in the quest for top talent, but also help you build a happier, more productive workforce. Telemedicine is a great place to start in addressing the changing needs of today’s healthcare consumer. In today’s post you’ll learn:
- What is telemedicine?
- How does telemedicine work?
- What are the benefits of telehealth services?
- How to implement a telehealth program at your business
What is telemedicine?
Telemedicine, also known as telehealth, can be defined as electronic two-way real-time communication between a medical professional and a patient. This communication might happen over a phone call, video call, or even a mobile chat. With telehealth services, your employees can speak with a medical professional on-demand via computer, phone, tablet, or a digital app on a mobile phone.
How does telemedicine work?
Telehealth is simple to roll-out and even easier for your team to being taking advantage of. Through a mobile or desktop telemedicine app, an employee initiates an appointment. The employee can select a phone call or video call. The telehealth app then directly connects the employee with a board-certified doctor. The doctors collects the necessary information, makes a diagnosis, and overviews next steps for the patient’s treatment. All the medical professionals employees access through telemedicine are board-certified doctors and are fully licensed to prescribe treatment and medications directly through the app.
What are the benefits of telemedicine?
Telemedicine affords your business and your employees many benefits including:
- Reduced healthcare costs for employees and employers. Unnecessary doctor and ER visits cost both employers and employees millions of dollars a year. In fact, studies show that almost 75% of all doctor, urgent care, and ER visits are either unnecessary or could be handled safely via telehealth. Research estimates that telemedicine could potentially deliver more than $6 billion a year in healthcare savings to U.S. companies. The estimated return on investment for a telemedicine program was about $3.30 in cost savings for every $1 spent on program implementation, according to the Geisinger Health Plan study.
- Reduced absenteeism. Employees frequently miss work for doctors appointments or illness. Telehealth helps combat this by providing 24/7 access to doctors, on-demand. In many cases, telemedicine eliminates the need for in-person office visits for simple ailments like the flu, ear infections, and sinusitis. In one survey, 21% of patients said not having to travel to the doctor’s visit was the top benefit of telemedicine.
- Happier employees. Research shows that employees highly-value access to a telemedicine solution. A recent survey found that of those who have experienced real-time telehealth communication with a mobile app, 80% prefer this method to a traditional in-office medical visit.
- Empowered employees. Telehealth services help empower employees to take charge of their health. In one study, 53% of patients felt that telemedicine increased their involvement in treatment decisions.
- Healthier employees. As with any healthcare benefit, better health outcomes are the ultimate goal. Significant research has been done to determine telehealth’s effect on patient outcomes. A study on the Geisinger Health Plan, found that patient readmissions were 44% lower over 30 days and 38% lower over 90 days for patients enrolled in a telemedicine program.
How to Implement a Telehealth Program at Your Business
Many healthcare providers are now including a telehealth program along with their healthcare network. Another option is to roll-out a dedicated telemedicine program through a telehealth app provider, such as HealthiestYou. In most cases, a dedicated telehealth provider has better technology and much higher employee utilization rates than the telehealth features rolled into provider plans.
The right benefits broker can help you analyze your existing healthcare offering and determine the best plan to integrate telehealth services. Here at Launchways, we partner with Teledoc, HealthiestYou, and Best Doctors to help our clients roll-out high-impact telemedicine programs.
In today’s post we explored what telemedicine is, the key benefits it brings your workforce, and how to roll-out a telehealth program at your business. Here are some key takeaways:
- Telemedicine is an emerging healthcare trend many employers are adopting to attract top talent and cut costs on healthcare spend
- Telehealth services give your employees real-time access to board-certified doctors via a phone, desktop, or tablet
- Telemedicine can help your organization cut healthcare costs while also improving healthcare outcomes for your team
- Many healthcare providers offer a telemedicine feature, but a dedicated telehealth solution typically has better utilization rates
- Your benefits broker can help you determine how to integrate telemedicine into your benefits program
Is your team using telemedicine? If not, do you plan to roll out a telehealth program this year? Let me know in the comments below.