Telemedicine News: A Healthcare Trend You Can’t Afford to Ignore

October 6, 2015

First Stop Health

Just a few short years ago, we had to walk outside and wait with our arm in the air to hail a taxi. If it was rush hour, or raining, we’d be standing there for what seemed like an eternity looking for a cab. Now all we need to do is pull up one of half a dozen Uber-like car sharing services and book a ride. Getting a taxi is nearly effortless and costs less now than it did before...all the while allowing us to stay dry!

This innovation put the power in the hands of the customer. Why can’t that power be put into the hands of the healthcare consumer?

Telemedicine is the product of this theory. It solves the problem patients have been facing with two driving goals: to save time and lower medical costs. For once, benefits brokers have good news for employers. As a broker, you can arm your clients with the facts they need to give their employees more control over their healthcare costs.

80% of surveyed working Americans “would book doctors' appointments online as it’s more convenient.” Workers want to save time, and they want to save money. Telemedicine helps with both and takes convenience to a new level by allowing patients to speak to a doctor over the phone anywhere, anytime. As a result, it isn’t surprising that the percentage of employers offering a telemedicine benefit is expected to more than triple from 35% to 81% over the next 3 years.

These employers understand that telemedicine isn’t a healthcare trend they can afford to ignore. Here’s why:

Telemedicine News: It Saves Employers Money

Telemedicine is one of the few benefits that genuinely keeps money in the pockets of employers. A company of 1,000 employees should expect to save more than $100,000 in the first year of implementing it––a savings driven from two sources:

  1. Avoided doctor visit fees. A company of this size should be able to prevent more than 350 ER, Urgent Care, and doctor’s office visits every year.
  2. Productivity ROI. Keeping employees healthy and in the office means they are able to do their jobs more efficiently. By offering telemedicine, a company should expect to save their employees more than 700 hours a year by using telemedicine instead of visiting a physician when they are sick.

By combining these two cost-saving factors, reaching more than $100,000 in savings every year should be par for the course. What could your clients do with that extra cash flow next year?

Telemedicine News: It Saves Employees Money (and Time)

A telemedicine option also ensures that employees save money in their healthcare contributions over the year. With high deductible health plans (HDHPs) becoming the norm, high deductibles and increased medical expenses are hitting the employees harder than ever. And when costs go up, people put off treatment. According to a recent Gallup poll, more than one in three American workers will put off treatment due to cost.

That easily treatable bronchitis becomes pneumonia. If the cost for even basic illnesses wasn’t so expensive, thousands of dollars in medical costs could be avoided. But wouldn’t it have been easier if a patient had just been able to make a 5-minute phone call from work when they first felt ill? What was once a $100 doctor’s office fee to get a prescription has now become a multi-thousand dollar expense for the employer and the employee.

While employees definitely want to save money, they also value their time. Many companies are providing telemedicine as an alternative to an activity that is normally a pain in the neck––going to the doctor. Work is the number 1 reason American workers cancel or reschedule a health checkup, and it’s easy to see why:

  • A normal primary care physician appointment takes about two hours, while an ER visit takes four.
  • These visits can also rack up more than $100 and $1,000, respectively, in deductibles for the employee.

A telemedicine consultation, however, takes an average of 5 minutes. As a CEO of one of our company clients says, "You’re giving your employees a piece of their life back."

According to the latest Telemedicine news, within 3 years, telemedicine will be offered by more than 80% of employers with 1,000 employees or more. And it’s easy to see why. Telemedicine is one of the few benefits that can more than pay for itself in avoided ER and Urgent Care visits, and it will save both your clients and their employees time and money. Telemedicine companies are a trend employers can’t afford to ignore, and a piece of good news that brokers can use to help employers lower overall healthcare costs.

Originally published Oct 6, 2015 7:46:30 PM.