In response to today’s circumstances, we have seen increased demand for telemedicine from healthcare consumers. For many, the opportunity to engage in traditional healthcare (i.e. visiting a doctor’s office or emergency room) has dwindled due to risk of infection and reallocation of resources. Consequently, individuals across the nation have had to adapt and embrace telemedicine to access healthcare and associated resources from the comfort of their own home.
This transformation from traditional care to telemedicine has already impacted the employee benefits industry in a multitude of ways and has the potential to impact this industry for years to come. Below are ten things to know about telemedicine, as if continues to transform healthcare as we know it.
Safety is Key — You are less likely to contract COVID-19 if you avoid places where sick people congregate. Individuals should not risk exposure at their doctor’s office to get treatment for a condition that can be treated virtually.
Awareness is Growing — More patients are gaining an understanding of the benefits of telemedicine. Instructive communications from Human Resource Departments and benefit providers are essential to driving utilization and knowledge of resources.
Usage is Increasing — First Stop Health saw an 86% increase in telemedicine consults from 2019 to 2020.
Technology is Surging — With smartphone usage on the rise, patients have been able to utilize mobile apps and websites to supplement the care they need. Virtual visits have drastically increased in popularity through smartphones, tablets, and computers.
Services are Widening — Telemedicine has grown not only in volume, but also in scope. At-home COVID-19 testing and prescription delivery are among the services now available from providers and through employee benefit packages.
Regulations are Receding — The CARES Act made changes at the federal level that are affecting delivery of and payment for telemedicine services. Telemedicine HIPAA regulations have been temporarily relaxed, while some states have lifted physician-licensing regulations.
Employers are Expanding Coverage — Since the pandemic, nearly half of employers have expanded their benefit packages to include telemedicine and accommodate employees’ needs.
Mental Health is a Priority — According to SHRM, approximately 50% of employees say that work-related concerns have left them burned out amidst the pandemic. The need for virtual mental health counseling and resources is top of mind for employers and employees.
Costs are a Factor — According to a survey by First Stop Health, 57% of employers said that cost savings is a factor when determining healthcare benefits for the following year. Telemedicine has become an effective and attractive way for employers to save, redirecting healthcare spending away from emergency room visits and urgent care.
Employee Feedback — Individuals that have a positive experience using telemedicine are more inclined to share this experience with friends, family, and colleagues — ultimately contributing to the popularity of this type of care.
Information provided by Employee Benefit News.