The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defines “telehealth” as telecommunications and information technology used to share information and provide clinical care, education, public health and administrative services at a distance. The term “telemedicine” is more narrow. It generally refers to remote clinical services and telecommunications between providers and patients.
No matter what you call it, these systems allow a patient to communicate with a health care provider outside the traditional clinical setting. They offer health care services via smartphone and video chat. And they provide a wide range of treatments, including mental health visits, primary care diagnoses and prescription drug advice.
Telehealth is convenient because it offers access to medical and mental health care providers in a personal setting, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Here are some benefits to highlight for employees:
Providers will diagnose and treat nonemergency conditions. Some of the most common ailments they deal with include cold and flu-like symptoms, pink eye, nausea and rashes. They can also prescribe medication as needed.
Telehealth is no longer considered emerging technology. There are plenty of vendors from which to choose. A growing number of local health care systems offer programs. And many health carriers have designed plans that are already integrated with your group health plan.
You will want to schedule a demo of the product to make sure even your least tech-savvy employees can take advantage of the benefit. Here are a few suggestions on what to look for when choosing a vendor:
There are also a few things to watch out for when making your selection.
Some states already have parity laws requiring insurance companies to reimburse for telehealth services the same way they do for medical care received in a provider’s office. But others do not. Be sure to look for a plan that makes it easy for your employees to pay for and utilize its services.
While almost 75% of large employers offer telehealth services, participation remains low. To encourage employee use, don’t bury the benefit in your medical plan. Educate your employees on how the system works. Offer demos of the program and share success stories from patients (your vendor or health carrier can often provide these).
You may also want to:
In some cases, you will need to overcome the perception that these visits are impersonal. It’s important to remind employees that they are selecting the provider and will meet with them one-on-one. Regardless of the form of the appointment, the provider is dedicated to providing your employees with the care they need.
Providers see a future where telehealth is a primary source of care. New programs are emerging on a regular basis. For example, on-demand urgent care via video is now available in select large markets and expected to expand to smaller markets across the country.
If you are interested in learning more about how you and your employees can benefit from a telehealth program, connect with us. They can help with everything from vetting a program vendor to educating employees on how to take advantage of everything the system has to offer.
At General Insurance Services, we are a team of insurance professionals with an array of experience, backgrounds, and interests. We’re advisors with a mission to secure the future of the communities we serve. Share our knowledge through this blog allows us to get one step closer to achieving our mission.