How Telemedicine Is Shaping the Future of Healthcare

We live in a time of technology. Many people own multiple portable devices that allow them to access videos and communicate with anyone, anytime. Recent stay-at-home orders have meant that people are relying even more on telecommunication, both for staying in touch with loved ones and for working. But how about using an app on your phone or tablet to access healthcare? Telemedicine might be the future of healthcare, and not just in times of crisis. As an employer, you should consider adding this benefit to your employee healthcare plan, as a way to keep costs down and keep your employees healthy.

The Benefits of Telemedicine

metal case filled with 100 bills in rubber bands.
U.S. employers could save up to $6 billion per year by providing telemedicine benefits to their employees

Adding telemedicine to your benefits plan can be a win-win. It can help your company’s bottom line and give your employees greater access to healthcare. 

In terms of the benefit to you, consider that healthcare costs were projected to rise anywhere from 5-6.5% in 2020, and that was before the coronavirus pandemic hit in the early part of the year. Anything you can do to keep costs down continuing to offer your employees healthcare is worth looking into. In terms of savings, studies show that:

  • U.S. employers could save up to $6 billion per year by providing telemedicine benefits to their employees
  • Adding a telemedicine program generates about 11% in cost savings, which leads to an estimated return on investment of about $3.30 in cost savings for every $1 spent on program implementation
  •  Net cost savings is estimated at $19 – $121 per telemedicine visit, depending on where the employee would have otherwise sought care

The most obvious benefit for you employees is convenience. Employees may find it difficult to take time off of work to take their children to checkups, or those managing chronic illnesses might have a hard time constantly heading to a doctor’s office. Some may not even have a primary care physician that they are regularly seeing – like 67% of millennials. Being able to easily access care from a phone or tablet could mean the difference between staying well and putting their health on the backburner. 

Telemedicine can save you and your employees money, but there is no need to worry that you would be skimping on care for your employees. In fact, a study of the health outcomes of 8,000 patients found no difference between patients who saw a doctor in person and patients who had a telemedicine appointment. Many people even say that the level of care they received during their telemedicine appointment was equal to or better than the care they received in person. Over 50% said that they felt that they were more involved in their own healthcare decisions when they met with a doctor virtually. And, according to a Geisinger Health Plan study, patient hospital re-admissions were 44% lower over 30 days and 38% lower over 90 days, compared to patients not enrolled in a telemedicine program.

The Demand for Telemedicineillustration of female doctor in white gown on cell phone with question bubble and typing bubbles.

One thing to consider is whether employees are actually interested in using telemedicine. One way to find out is to do your own employee health survey. According to many surveys that have already been done, it seems that many employees are very interested in the idea of virtual doctor visits. According to one, almost 80% said they would be open to using it. To take it one step further, a study of millennials, who are one of the largest segments of the working population, found that almost half of them said that having a telemedicine option in their benefits plans was “extremely or very important.” Offering a competitive and cutting-edge healthcare plan is one way to attract the best talent, and keep them once you’ve got them.

Encouraging Usage

Even with all the benefits and availability of telemedicine, employee usage of telemedicine has been relatively low. If you do decide to add a telemedicine option to your healthcare plan, there are ways you can encourage employees to take advantage of it.  group of people sitting around each other with laptops and one woman in the center talking.

  • Communicate the quality of care they will get, and the credentials of the doctors in the telemedicine network
  • Speak with the providers your employees are already using, and see if you can encourage them to add a telemedicine option. If you can create a network of telemedicine providers that your employees are more familiar with, they may be more likely to use this option
  • If at all possible, try to create a plan that has very low – or no – copays for telemedicine appointments
  • Offer a room in your workspace dedicated to telemedicine appointments

There are so many ways you can offer your employees access to care and, while it may take time on your part, looking into all of them is worth doing, especially if you can find innovative ways to save money. Remember, though, you don’t have to do all of the legwork on your own: EZ.Insure is here to help. We’ll answer all your questions, sift through all the plan options, and give you instant quotes when you need them – all for free! Get started with us today by simply entering your zip code in the bar above. Or to speak with an agent directly, call 888-350-1890. No hassle, no obligation!