The last year has no doubt had its challenges. Thankfully, with the maturity of broadband internet and video conferencing, opportunities to use this technology have grown exponentially into new areas, such as telehealth. While the new norm is upon us, there has been a recent surge of interest amongst small businesses using telehealth services for remote treatment. For many companies, this can provide fast, convenient, and affordable care for injuries and illnesses.
Let us explore this most recent service and how it can help you improve employee retention rates, improve performance, and reduce healthcare costs.
The Rise of Telemedicine*
Telemedicine—or telehealth—provides healthcare services using video conferencing, a telephone or wireless communications. With any of these devices you can have access to live medical care from a provider. Virtual doctor visits became increasingly popular to limit physical contact and reduce the spread of COVID-19. Still, studies show it will remain a popular alternative due to a long list of benefits like convenience and flexibility. Telemedicine gives the patient more control over their health with advantages such as:
- Care is not restricted to a single city or state but can be accessed anywhere, anytime. This availability of access is essential for employees who may not be in a major city with quick access to specialized healthcare. It also means employees can access a range of specialists such as primary care, dermatology, and mental health providers, not limited by geography.
- It also benefits employees who often travel, such as salespeople, and may need healthcare while on the road.
- Medical practitioners can provide shorter wait times and allow the ability to schedule appointments around work or school.
- Minor workplace injuries can be treated quickly right from your work location. For injuries that require physical therapy, rehabilitation can be monitored while at work through a telemedicine appointment.
- Injured or ill employees can have faster recoveries with access to telemedicine. In some cases, employees can remain at work for treatment and implement a recovery plan to limit or eliminate time off work. Faster recovery can also impact the duration of a worker’s compensation case and increase overall productivity.
- The solution can also improve the handling of worker’s compensation claims—and potentially lower costs—provided telemedicine is offered as a medical treatment option by worker’s compensation carrier.
These benefits have not gone unnoticed by the healthcare and insurance industry. Many insurance providers now include or recommend some level of telehealth services. For you, as an employer, it provides an affordable employee benefit.
The Business Advantages of Telemedicine
Business owners see the advantages of healthy employees from a strategic perspective and are rapidly moving towards the service. Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans found the number of employers offering a telehealth program has more than doubled since 2015.
Telemedicine Reduces Healthcare Costs
It is of no surprise that healthcare costs continue to rise. According to a 2018 insurance report by E-health, the average per-person premium for small group health insurance was $409 per month, and small group health plans had an average deductible of $3,140 per year.
As an “add-on” benefit to standard health insurance or as a stand-alone alternative to insurance, employees can virtually visit a doctor for less than $20, a far cry from the $100 or more it costs to visit a physician physically. Most insurance providers will also allow coverage of both full and part-time employees. This flexible, low-cost benefit means employers can offer healthcare benefits to seasonal, part-time, and contracted workers.
Employers can pay a group rate and offer telemedicine to benefit employees or allow them to pay a low monthly fee to cover themselves and their family members. Low-cost care is a win for employers and employees.
Healthier Employees Impact Performance
When you do not feel well, you are less productive. And non-productive employees cost you money.
Due to the cost or inconvenience of medical appointments, employees often put off care until they can no longer wait. Ill team members also spread germs, putting your entire staff at risk.
Quality, low-cost medical care makes employees happier, healthier, and more productive in the workplace. A new study shows that patients who have access to medical care through telemedicine have lower rates of depression, stress, and anxiety than those who do not. These patients also have 38% fewer hospital admissions. These statistics are backed by individual vendors, such as our partner, Teledoc, who states their life-changing expert medical advice has enabled 79% of treatments modified, 39% of surgeries avoided, and 45% of diagnoses modified.
The convenience of telemedicine reduces the out-of-office time for medical issues, increases productivity due to decreased absenteeism, and limits unexpected expenses for the employer and the employee. Instead of waiting weeks for an appointment, telehealth makes doctors, therapists, and specialists available to help with the flu, infections, anxiety, stress, skin conditions, and more. The faster your employees are at their best, the quicker they can help your business.
Selecting a Telehealth Provider Need Not Make You Sick
There are several telehealth providers on the market today, but not all of them are created equal. Cost should not come with the sacrifice of quality. And quality telehealth must be delivered based on the needs of both the employer and the employee. For example, suppose your employees work in a warehouse or outdoors. The types of injuries or care may be different than with inactive or desk-bound workers. Aligning the services with employee needs leads to increased service use and more direct business benefits such as decreased costs and higher-performing employees.
Holloway Benefit Concepts Can Help
Many individual health insurance plans today include a telehealth option, but you can also provide this benefit to employees through a third-party vendor who does not require insurance. We work directly with vendors in compliance with current applicable state and federal telehealth regulations and laws.
Whether looking for an attractive health insurance benefits package or telemedicine as an added employee perk, we can help find the best vendor for your needs and budget. Our team is passionate about helping companies that value their employees. Contact us to learn more about our services and schedule a consultation.
*Telemedicine is not appropriate for severe injuries and cannot replace emergency medical care.