Posted September 01, 2022 by Steve Chrzanowski, Director, Group Retention & Sales Support
During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth services (healthcare delivery and education via video and audio technology) gained visibility as a safe and effective way to receive quality medical care. As a result of its rise in popularity, employers saw gains in workforce productivity due to employees not having to travel to a provider’s office, sit in a waiting room, wait for the provider to see them and travel back to work.
In the past, your employees may have been reluctant to use telehealth because it wasn’t a service offered by their own provider, but that isn’t the case anymore. A large percentage of physician practices have at least one provider who sees patients virtually. This is especially true for services like primary care and mental health. And the demand for new services will likely increase as virtual visits become the more convenient option – resulting in improved access for all.
Benefits of Telehealth
Unnecessary after-hours and weekend emergency room and urgent care visits are a drain on the U.S. healthcare system. Being able to access a telehealth provider 24/7 can help reduce those visits and associated costs.
Telemedicine has been proven effective at helping patients living with chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma and obesity better manage their health and prevent the progression of their condition – resulting in improved medical compliance and fewer missed workdays. One of the ways this is accomplished is through automated visit follow-ups via texts and emails that provide tailored patient education about diet and exercise, medication adherence and appointment reminders.
Although most appointments are conducted using a computer, tablet or smartphone over the internet, health care providers often use secure patient portals (like MyChart) to message, call and video chat to protect patient privacy and sensitive health information. Here are some other tips to help protect your employees’ privacy and data online:
Ready When You Need It
The advantages of telehealth are numerous, but your employees aren’t going to use it if they don’t know they have access to it. Just having the service listed in your company’s benefits information isn’t enough. Incorporate frequent messaging about telehealth, its benefits and how to use it in different communications tools like emails, newsletters and symptom checkers to drive utilization. The biggest selling points should reinforce its safety, privacy, convenience and 24/7 access. There’s no wait time for an appointment, no need to drive anywhere, providers are board-certified, and treatment can begin immediately whether that’s seeing a behavioral health provider for mental health support or a dermatologist for a skin rash.
Most SummaCare members have access to Teladoc® (the No. 1 ranked direct-to-consumer telehealth provider by J.D. Power) as part of their benefits plan coverage. With permission, Teladoc after-visit summaries, test results and prescription information can be shared with a person’s primary care physician for follow-care if needed. In order to expedite using Teladoc when the need arises, encourage employees to preregister by setting up an online account in the Teladoc app and completing a brief medical history. This can be done at teladoc.com or by calling 1.800.835.2362.
Telemedicine is meant to be a complement, not a replacement for in-person care. It empowers people to better manage chronic conditions and prevent acute conditions from getting worse. By including telemedicine in your company’s benefits package, you help decrease healthcare costs for your business and employees and build a healthier and more productive workforce.