A Telemedicine Benefit Gives HR Employees the ThanksThey Deserve

August 27, 2015

First Stop Health

The relationship between HR departments and benefits administration is complicated. Evaluating and assembling benefits’ packages is a time consuming tasks made even more complex by the Affordable Care Act. And the thankless result is consistently accompanied by the dreadful message to employees, “You are going to have to pay more out-of-pocket in premiums and/or deductibles.”

And yet with the numerous responsibilities piled on benefits administration, HR departments could, on occasion, spread positive news. HR leaders could stand up at an open enrollment meeting and say, “We are adding a telemedicine benefit this year that will save each of you about $1,000 in healthcare costs…and will cost you nothing.”

It is one thing to offer a telemedicine benefit, but quite another to implement the benefit so that employees truly realize, well, “the benefits.” Effectively implementing telemedicine requires changing employees’ behavior when they are sick or need a doctor. Instead of running to the ER or urgent care at the first sign of illness, they could call a doctor to be diagnosed and treated over the phone.

Unfortunately, changing habits can be hard. It is a time consuming task that requires targeted, consistent, and comprehensive messaging.

Employees must internalize:

  1. What is Telemedicine?
  2. When should they use it?
  3. How will it help them save time and money?

Between hiring, firing, training, performance reviews and benefits administration, HR professionals have more than enough on their plates. Changing employees’ behavior through education campaigns and consistent communications falls to the bottom of an already long to-do list.

Including a flier in an open enrollment packet in November is not enough to remind an employee in March that they shouldn’t go to the ER on a Saturday night when they have a sudden onset of the flu--and nothing else is open. Telemedicine needs to be “top-of-mind,” not simply “middle-of-packet.”

A successful telemedicine roll-out that changes employees’ behavior includes multiple touch-points throughout the year and through several mediums. Moreover, the messaging and delivery mechanisms must be tailored to the workforce demographic.

Fortunately, once individuals use a service-oriented telemedicine solution they become repeat users and evangelists. The real work is in getting individuals to try it that first time. This work is best done by the telemedicine provider that specializes in driving customized employee engagement campaigns, so that the only message the HR department hears is, “Thank You!”

Originally published Aug 27, 2015 1:00:00 PM.