Don’t Just Check the Box On Telemedicine

December 29, 2015

Teira Gunlock

Buying a house is one of the biggest investments you could make in your lifetime. This is where your family will grow, where you’ll make your best memories––and you’ll be paying for it for the next two decades. So it’s important to choose wisely and understand what you really need. Sure, the hot tub in home #2 is great, but how often will you actually use it? And having an extra garage stall in home #6 is convenient, but is that feature worth the higher price tag?We like to use this analogy when thinking about healthcare investments, too. It’s great to be able to provide for your employees with an attractive benefits package. But if no one is actually utilizing your investment,it’s a waste of your company’s money.

When you’re considering telemedicine benefits, it’s essential to not just think of it as “checking a box” on the list of possible benefits you could offer employees. Utilization rates are the #1 metric you should be carefully watching when choosing a provider, so let’s talk about the difference between low-utilization telemedicine (LUT) and high-utilization telemedicine (HUT).

Utilization Drives Savings

Why pay for a benefit nobody uses? The more your employees use the cost-saving benefit, the more your company and your employees save in claims costs and co-pays. By driving this savings, you get the most out of your investment.

However, you have to engage your employees to make sure they’re using it. If they don't actually use it, they also won’t be able to see just how helpful and time-saving it is in their lives. Telemedicine could be saving them hours in the doctor’s office every month and thousands a year in costly co-pays! But if you don’t have an effective engagement strategy, you won’t see the ROI you want and need to justify your telemedicine.

It's the Way of the Future

There are still some telehealth providers who charge low per employee per month costs (PEPMs) –– which seems like a good deal for employers. But these low prices are paired with a co-pay for the employees who use the service, which kills any chance employees will use it. These LUT plans will start to fade as employers realize that utilization makes or breaks a telemedicine benefit.

The future of innovative healthcare will be driven by people, not just numbers––people who actually use telemedicine and drive savings. Just like you’re investing in telemedicine, you’re also spending time, money, and energy by trusting your provider. Ensure it’s a HUT so that you can rest easy knowing that both you and your employees are really benefiting from having a telemedicine offering.

Real Benefits for Real People

You know telemedicine can save you (and your employees) time and money. But there’s more to this benefit than just dollars and cents. By investing in this, you’re showing that your company truly cares about its employees and their well-being. You’re not just “checking the box” so that it appears you care about your employees. Instead you have selected a benefit that people will actually use and benefit from, ensuring all your employees –- current and future –– are making the best use of their healthcare dollars.

As healthcare evolves over the coming months and years, we will start to talk more about utilization and less about cost. You want to save your company money, but you also need to be conscious of how valuable your benefits are to your employees and ensure they’re actually using the benefit as it’s intended to be used.

Originally published Dec 29, 2015 3:30:00 PM.