What Makes Telehealth Work: Employee Engagement

June 20, 2014

Patrick Spain

The title of this article is such a BGO* that it almost goes without saying. No one appreciates a benefit or saves money from its existence unless employees use it.

So why am I writing about BGOs and why should you read this?

How a company gets its employees to be aware of and use a telehealth service is not obvious and may, in fact, be counterintuitive. As we at First Stop Health talk to our existing and potential clients, the big worry most human resources and finance executives express is that of usage: Will their employees take advantage of the benefit that provides increased convenience for employees and significant savings to employers?

It’s a valid concern. The industry’s average utilization rate is below 10% and the participation rate for many companies is as low as 2% of total employees. Why are so few employees picking up the phone to call a doctor when telehealth is available?

The main reason is that they have been habituated to going to a physical location--either a doctor’s office, immediate care facility or emergency room. They have not been educated or even made aware of the existence of telehealth, much less the convenience it brings for the 60% of ailments that do not require a physical exam. They may have heard about the benefit during open enrollment, but we all know that employees often ignore emails about benefits sent from HR.

Most telehealth providers do nothing to help encourage usage throughout the contract term. Doing so would fly in the face of their traditional “insurance” model: Put the benefit in place and hope that no one uses it. Fewer calls equal higher profits … for the telehealth provider.

First Stop Health has turned this model on its head. We are committed to maximizing employee participation and utilization. How do we do this? We create a year-round, multi-channel employee engagement program that is customized to each employer’s culture.

We are obsessed with helping employees and their families understand that telehealth, as the CEO of one of our clients put it to us, “gives back to employees that most valuable of commodities: time.”

Yes, telemedicine is about saving money. But it is more about habit and emotion. First Stop Health understands this. As a result, our participation and utilization rates are 4 to 10 times above the industry’s average.

There are few other employee benefits that provide both financial and emotional benefits, including convenience, savings, health and peace of mind. Telehealth from First Stop Health gives you and your employees all of these.

Originally published Jun 20, 2014 10:00:00 AM.