The convenience of telehealth often entices people to book appointments that they would otherwise put off, and makes it more likely that patients will better engage with follow-up care.
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When we look back at the COVID-19 pandemic from the vantage point of the future, there will likely be several ways that it will have permanently altered life as we know it. Chances are a push into the digital world will be one of them.
Amid all the craziness, people and businesses everywhere realized that they can do much more remotely than they ever thought they could. Telehealth soared during the pandemic. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth has provided a critical way for patients to continue to access needed care,” the American Hospital Association said in a statement in March. “We greatly appreciate the flexibilities implemented during the public health emergency, as they have allowed hospitals and health systems to care for patients in the safety of their own homes.”
It’s not terribly surprising that telehealth has become a top employee benefit this year, which means that a ton of employers are beginning to offer it.
Not sure if telehealth is the right choice for your business or unsure about how it works? Here’s a primer on all things telehealth and its benefits for employees.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth is essentially the providing and receiving of health and health-related services like medical care, mental healthcare and more through digital communication technologies—aka remotely. Ever logged into a MyChart or other digital portal to access test results or message your doctor? Did you have a medical appointment conducted over video software during the pandemic? If so, you’ve used telehealth!
What are the benefits of telehealth for employees?
Most everyone has a busy life in this modern world. From staying on top of work and holding a social life together to fitting in time for self care and toting kids to and from activities again for the first time in well over a year, there’s a lot going on.
Just like people have fallen in love with ordering on Amazon and getting groceries delivered, accessing healthcare remotely can be a much easier way to fit in medical care on top of already busy lives. It’s much easier to see a doctor when you can simply click on a link rather than drive to a clinic, deal with parking, and the like. Plus, when it comes to infectious diseases like COVID-19, seeing patients remotely can boost the safety of those who have to physically go into the doctor’s office for one reason or another.
While there are still a lot of regulations surrounding the use of telehealth for patients who travel to other cities and states, states have started to adopt laws that make it easier for patients to use telehealth services from other states. If you have employees who travel a lot for work, chances are in the coming years telehealth is going to be a great way for them to centralize and continue care from the road.
Why are small businesses offering telehealth?
One major benefit of offering telehealth to your employees is that it can actually help reduce your healthcare expenses.
The convenience of telehealth often entices people to book appointments that they would otherwise put off, which means Doctors are seeing patients before issues become severe and expensive and it makes it more likely that patients will better engage with follow-up care.
Telehealth visits are also usually less expensive than in person visits, which means that providers often pay less for various claims. If done right, this can ultimately drive down premium costs and make health insurance more affordable for employers and employees.
If you’re already offering insurance through a major provider, chances are they already have a telehealth option that you can select, so adding it to the mix is pretty easy.
Even if you don’t and you have to jump through a few more hoops to make it happen, it’s probably worth it. As more and more employers offer telehealth and more and more people become used to it (especially after the remote world that the pandemic drove us into), it’s quickly becoming a benefit you’ll likely have to offer in order to stay competitive in the market for talent.