The Latest News in Employee Benefits Trends

March 3, 2016

First Stop Health

It’s no secret that healthcare costs have increased significantly in the past few years. Companies are demanding benefits that not only help reduce rising costs but provide quality patient care.

And good news for all of us: employee benefits trends are heading in that direction.

There’s been a rumble building about telemedicine as it grows as an employee benefit, with people excited about all the positives it has to offer. We’ve been a part of this steady drum beat for years, and now we’re excited to see healthcare experts from every corner of the industry joining in on the conversation.

Here are the four hot employee benefits trends brokers and healthcare professionals are talking about:

1. Telemedicine Benefits Save Time

You only have so many hours in the work day. So when you get sick, you need to sacrifice work or your personal life driving to the doctor’s office, filling out paperwork, being seen, and then picking up a prescription. Then you’ll pay the doctor, drive to the pharmacy, wait again, and then (maybe) you’ll get back to work before your day ends.

This article from The Seattle Times does a great job recognizing telemedicine benefits as a huge time-saver for both doctors and patients. It also dives into the financial benefits of a virtual visit with a doctor, which we’ve posted about many times before!

2. Telemedicine Focuses on the Long-Term

“We are seeing benefits tending to focus more on long-term positive outcomes for employees. While free food and ping pong are nice perks, there seems to be a genuine interest in ensuring financial wellness and healthcare stay top of mind.... There has been an explosion of technology tools in the last few years--everything is on-demand 24/7 and easily accessible through a mobile app. From the benefits perspective, this means that employees want and expect solutions that mirror this -- telemedicine and robo-advice on your investments will become part of a standard benefits package.”

Benefits trends focus on long-term positive outcome that truly impact employees’ lives and health in the long run. This article from Employee Benefit News brings up interesting points about how employees will begin to expect telehealth services from their increasingly tech-savvy employers.

3. Employee Education Matters

“But as with any new care channel developed in response to a market need for more affordable and available care, patients need to understand it. The biggest issue may be patient confusion in deciding which care channel to use. This is not a new challenge.... From an employer’s perspective, employee education is crucial if the value of telemedicine is to be realized. That education needs to be repeated often.”

Technology’s advances are fascinating, and they can be life-saving--but not if people don’t know how to use them. For example, urgent care was seen as an intimidating practice just a few decades ago--but today, they are a familiar part of each person’s healthcare story. This is why it’s so important to educate those who have access to services like telemedicine as they become more common.

4. Utilization Is Key

We couldn’t agree more with Dr. Khoury, education is incredibly important for employees to understand how telemedicine is used. Because of the education provided by First Stop Health, utilization among our members is the highest in the industry.

While employer-provided telemedicine has an average utilization rate of 7% and carrier-provided is a whopping 1%, First Stop Health’s clients have an average 56% utilization rate. This utilization rate is what allows us to provide big savings to companies. Keeping employees out of the doctor’s office saves them time and it employers costs.

Actual employee use and engagement is becoming a huge topic in the telemedicine industry, and we’re excited to contribute to the dialogue.

Our office is always buzzing with the telemedicine industry’s trending topics. Utilization, employee engagement, saving time and money for clients, and our long-term plan for telemedicine are always top-of-mind.

What conversations would you like to hear in telemedicine’s future?

Originally published Mar 3, 2016 1:00:00 PM.