Are you one of the many organizations looking to incorporate telemedicine as an added benefit? According to the National Business Group, nine in 10 large employers will make telehealth services available this year.
Telemedicine continues to be a growing leader in health care that benefits not only your employees but your organization as a whole. Rather than sending your staff members off to the doctor’s office with a long wait time for typical ailments or hearing that they had to make an urgent care or emergency department visit late at night, give them the option to access a doctor from home or the office and you’ll see time and money saved for the both of you.
But before jumping head first into to the world of virtual health, there are a few things you should consider. Use this post as a guide to get you started and as a reference, as you begin exploring different telemedicine providers.
Determine if telemedicine will lower your health care rates
Start by looking through your health care claims to analyze health care facility utilization. You’ll want to look for key data points that show how often your employees are utilizing high-cost facilities such as urgent cares, emergency departments, and even primary care physician offices. By adding telemedicine as an added benefit and replacing just a few of those visits with a $50 online visit, you’ll quickly see how telemedicine can begin to lower your total health care costs.
Decide who will be the payer
The biggest questions that are asked about telemedicine involve payment and reimbursement. Not all states are qualified for insurance or Medicare reimbursement of telemedicine so you’ll want to check your state’s guidelines before moving forward.
For those in states who do not support telemedicine parity, you still have good options.
- Shared cost: By paying a smaller monthly fee based on the number of the employees and/or dependents who are covered, you can subsidize the cost of telemedicine visits for your employees. Employees will pay a discounted rate for each visit that is much less expensive than consumer pricing. 75% of employers share the cost of a visit through this type of co-pay.
- Fully covered: By paying a slightly higher monthly fee based on the number of employees and/or dependents covered, employees enjoy free telemedicine visits. By selecting this option, you can expect a greater utilization rate which ultimately saves money in the long run by reducing the barrier to telemedicine and reinforcing an alternative to high-cost facility visits at higher rates.
Guage employee receptiveness to new technologies
Introducing a group of unwilling participants to a new technology is never easy, but choosing the right service provider can make all the difference. You’ll want to look for a provider with a platform that is not only easy to use, but one that also offers different options for care. While one person may feel comfortable using a mobile app, another might prefer a web browser or simple phone call. Providers who can see patients in more ways than one will help cater to the preference of a new user.
A proper introduction and training session can go a long way. Pair that with easy to access, helpful documents your employees can view 24/7 and you will have your staff members set up for success. Custom documents that can provide step-by-step access instructions are also a great alternative to in-person instruction.
Look for and ask questions about support available from the provider. If an employee is looking for care late at night but is having issues logging in, is there a solution in place to get them help when they need it the most?
Measure results to ensure good practice
So, you’ve looked through your health claims and taken a poll among employees who all agree that telemedicine as an added benefit would be greatly welcomed. But, before you begin, make sure you have a good system in place that will allow you to analyze the data. Our recommendation is that you receive key statistics monthly that will give you a good idea of how well your telemedicine program is performing. Remember that there will be fluctuations with the seasons, demand will increase during cold & flu season. Data points to review monthly:
- Number of monthly consults
- New users vs. returning users
- Overall utilization rate compared to number of employees & dependents covered
- High-cost facility prevention
- Medical resolution rates
- Satisfaction among users
*Some of these will require that your telemedicine provider issue a survey after each consult.
Double check that service is available at your workplace.
This may not be high on your priority list, but by providing your employees with access to a doctor from anywhere, they will want access from anywhere, including the office. Work with your IT team to ensure your provider’s website isn’t restricted from access on your network.
Telemedicine as an added benefit will keep your employees happier and healthier while stretching your health care dollars. Thinking through key elements prior to launching this type of service will allow you to see a successful implementation and keep you reaping the benefits year after year.
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