Employers Guide To Telehealth
Reshaping Access To Quality Healthcare For Your Employees
With the cost of healthcare skyrocketing every year and the shortage of primary care physicians making access to quality care more difficult, telehealth is one of the most viable options available to employers. The original momentum was perhaps attributable to a key finding in the 2013 report from NBGH/Towers Watson “Reshaping Healthcare.” In this survey of 583 major employers, the National Business Group on Health and Towers Watson found that 22% of leading employers were planning to implement telehealth in 2013 – where leading employers were, by definition, those best managing their own medical costs. 2 out of 5 Employers already offer telehealth benefits to their employees & by 2018 it is projected that 80% of employers will offer Telehealth coverage for their workforce.
At Virtual Healthcare , we have seen a notable increase in employer interest as well as health plan partners. This report examines the key reasons for employer telehealth programs, as well as the best ways for implementation.
What is Telehealth?
The most simple explanation is having a doctor visit live over the internet or the telephone. Instead of travelling physically to doctor’s office, an urgent care facility or the emergency room, the patient will log-in and request a consultation with a U.S. board certified physician, located in the state the patient resides, and then connects over live video or telephone.
With Virtual Healthcare and telehealth, patients communicate in real- time with doctors. There are no time limits on the visit and access is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year, from anywhere the patient may be located within the United States.
Why the increased interest from Employers in Telehealth?
Five key trends are driving the interest in telehealth among employers:
1. Saving money.
A telehealth consultation typically costs about $45* – versus $90 for an in-office or retail visit, $120 or more for an urgent care and over $850 for a trip to the emergency room. Every time an employee sees a doctor online, it is less costly for the employers.
2. Saving time.
On average, an online doctor visit saves 2 – 3 hours, time that would have been taken as paid time off or absorbed in late arrival, early departure or an extended lunch. Visits over the weekend or evenings, when doctor’s offices are closed, save the employee’s personal time and avoid long urgent care or emergency room wait times.
3. Better healthcare access.
Regardless of your insurance program, access to quality healthcare is a waiting game. For employees on the road, working in rural locations or living in an area with limited healthcare options, telehealth can be the difference between having access to health care or not.
4. Making life easier for employees.
For most people, going to the doctor is complicated: you try to schedule an appointment that doesn’t make you wait a week or more; request a half-day off from work; drive through traffic; fill out paperwork; sit and wait with really sick people; and tell the triage nurse your healthcare challenge. Then you wait to see the doctor and then a few minutes with the doctor you are through. With Virtual Healthcare, an employee can login, request a consultation, get a diagnosis and treatment they need – including a prescription if appropriate. The doctor will even call the prescription into the employee’s pharmacy of choice. All of this in under 25 to 30 minutes on average.
5. Employee engagement.
As employees gain knowledge of healthcare options, telehealth is a natural choice – offering easier access to healthcare at a much lower cost. As a result, employers are increasingly bundling telehealth services into their benefit packages.
How do the employees feel?
Rated Their Visit: 94% Very Good or Excellent
Issues: 85% Resolved the Issue
Time: 96% Saved Time
Example Of Savings For Employer
Type of Healthcare Visits
10 % No Treatment
20% Urgent Care
63% Doctor Office
7% Emergency Room
For A Company of 50 Employees
Number of Visits Replaced | Savings PerVisit
Emergency Room 4 $850/visit =$3,400
Urgent Care 10 $150/visit=$1,500
Doctor Office 32 $85/visit =$2,720
Time Off 45 employees/4 hours $20/hour =$3,600
Loss Productivity 45 employees/4 hours $45/hour =$8,100
Total Savings of $19,320.00
What Employers Should Look For In A Telehealth Service
Telehealth is a topic being discussed by employees, employers, groups, organizations, government officials and many others. When selecting a partner for telehealth services, several factors should play into your decision:
A good telehealth service is only as good as their doctors. Virtual Healthcare provides doctors that are U.S. board certified in internal medicine, family practice, emergency medicine or pediatrics. They average 15 years practice experience and are licensed in the state your employee resides.
2. Live Interaction
Online video makes all the difference when it comes to seeing a patient. Secure chat and telephone play an important backup role for employees without video capability. With today’s technology, laptops, smart phones and tablets have put millions of video camera in the hands of your employees.
3. Access To Healthcare
Telehealth provides an alternative to traditional healthcare. With the shortage of primary care physicians, access will play a key role in providing healthcare when it is needed. Virtual Healthcare allows your employees access to healthcare. Anytime. Anywhere.
4. Attention To Regulation
Telehealth is regulated differently from one state to another. A sound telehealth services make available to each member only doctors licensed in their state and services that are lawful. Virtual Healthcare will be glad to provide a state by state guide.
What Types of Employers Benefit Most From Telehealth?
While everyone can benefit from telehealth services, we find that certain employers find the service most relevant to their healthcare challenge.
• Companies with mobile, remote, part-time and shift workers. These employees face challenges of time and distance. For these employees, telehealth is about getting quality healthcare when and where they need access.
• Employers with no insurance plan or high deductible plans where employees are bearing first-dollar risk. Providing access to telehealth and online visits saves the employees money and lets them know that as their employer, you are doing all you can to limit their out-of-pocket costs. For employees, telehealth is about saving money.
• Financial, educational, technology, retailers and other companies with high concentrations of white collar worker. Many of these employees have access to computers at work or home, telehealth is making healthcare easier.
• Employers who recognize the importance of family. In today’s economy, both parents most likely have to work, leaving little time to schedule a trip to see a doctor when they or a child is sick. In addition, single parents find it difficult to arrange a schedule to meet the demands of work and child care. Telehealth can solve these problems.
• Companies with high wage knowledge workers, where missing work time is expensive and places more workload and project deadlines on others. For them, telehealth is about saving time.
Virtual Healthcare is about:
Making Healthcare Easier
Implementing Telehealth To Your Employees
For employers, telehealth is one of the most exciting new benefits in years. It offers real value to employees and saves money. The following can make a major impact on how telehealth is received and how much it is used.
1. Make It Available To Everyone.
All employees want to be treated equal. By offering telehealth to everyone, it affirms the important role everyone has in your business.
2. Tell Them About It.
Most healthcare services are tied to the insurance model – once-a-year open enrollment, but telehealth is an online service, just like everything else on the internet. Your employees need regular communications as emails, fliers and newsletters, so that when they have a need, they can log-in instead of waiting to see a doctor or heading to an urgent care or emergency room.
3. Send A Membership Kit Home.
While electronic communication is at the core of a successful campaign, many employees will utilize telehealth services at home. Make it available for not only them but their families as well.
4. Make Room.
If you want employees to use telehealth services during working hours- when it can keep them on the job instead of at the doctor’s office – you may want to provide a secure, private space.
5. Share The Results.
Employees typically rate their telehealth experience very high – and letting others know can help spread the word that increases participation in your telehealth program. Of the employees that used telehealth.
Of the employees that used telehealth, 93% would recommend it to a friend or family member.
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It will be my life’s work to unite healthcare innovators in efforts to bring disruptive technologies that impact our population’s health. I will do this by educating, promoting & implementing programs that bring on an age of true “connected health” . I won’t give up this mission until our vision of healthcare without barriers or boundaries is realized. This won’t be accomplished overnight nor by one man, but by groups of leaders courageous enough to push forward. We will continue to learn, adapt & innovate together for the good of our society’s future. Join me in this movement & take your place in history… – Aneel Irfan