Telemedicine has been around for several years, and is now one of the fastest-growing employee health benefits, according to 2019 research by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). In fact, company adoption grew by 10% from 2018-2019.
But what are the benefits of telemedicine, and why are more companies turning to telemedicine than ever before? Because telemedicine is an essential piece in every mid- to large-employer’s benefits package.
Telemedicine allows employees to access a licensed, board-certified doctor remotely via a phone or video call.. The doctor then assesses and diagnoses the patient and, if appropriate, prescribes a medication.
Telemedicine is the 21st century, on-demand approach to healthcare that employees expect. Plus, it’s a benefit that, when executed correctly, actually delivers healthcare savings to employers and employees.
Here are three big benefits to telemedicine, and why every employer should offer it.
Offer a Competitive Benefits Package
Today’s job market is tight. In mid-2019, the unemployment rate was at a 49-year low of 3.7%. Employers are scrambling to not only hire top talent, but retain them.
The vast majority (91%) of large employers already offer telemedicine or plan to do so in the next 12 months. That means telemedicine is now a necessary benefit for all companies that want to keep up and attract talent.
These employers set themselves apart by providing a benefit that gives employees a convenient way to access healthcare anytime, anywhere. Companies that offer telemedicine show their employees that they care.
Plus, while most employers have a telemedicine benefit embedded through their health insurance carrier, that solution gets extremely low utilization (usually under 2%) and therefore has limited visibility and impact. Less than 15% of employers have a more effective “carved out” telemedicine offering that employees will actually use.
Deliver Healthcare Savings
Telemedicine should benefit both employers and employees by saving them money.
How? Because employees avoid going to urgent care or the ER for non-emergency conditions, and instead call a doctor from their home or office for little or no cost to them.
In fact, Americans waste $30 billion a year going to the emergency room for conditions that should be treated elsewhere, and two-thirds of ER visits are avoidable.
By using telemedicine, employees avoid expensive copays, which can amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars at the ER. Especially for employees on high deductible health plans (HDHPs), this benefit can put real dollars back into their pockets.
The savings from these avoided visits translate into even larger savings for employers, especially those that are self-insured, that see a reduction in overall healthcare claims. In fact, those healthcare savings should meet or exceed the cost of the telemedicine service if the program is well implemented.
Improve Employee Quality of Life
Going to the doctor is a pain - plain and simple. And when employees or their family members wake up with an ear infection or the flu, it’s the last thing they want to do.
They make an appointment. They wait and wait and wait. Finally, often hours or even days later, a doctor sees them, diagnoses them and may give them a prescription. Traveling to and from a doctor's office and sitting in a waiting room is a miserable, time consuming and expensive experience.
Telemedicine offers a better way. Telemedicine gives employees access to doctors quickly — often within less than 5 to 10 minutes. When employees don't have to spend time traveling and waiting, they can focus on the rest of their lives. An employer-provided telemedicine solution is a huge benefit because it gives employees and their families' more than convenient care — it gives them hours of their life back.