What Percentage of Claims Can Telemedicine Companies Divert?

December 2, 2015

Will Rumsey

While you prepare for the coming winter, telemedicine can be the first stop for many covered employees who come down with non-emergency, everyday illnesses. In fact, telemedicine companies can divert more than 350 visits to primary care physicians, urgent care centers or ERs for a 1,000-employee company by diagnosing and treating illnesses over the phone.

"Right-sizing” medical treatment by using telemedicine companies to avoid unnecessary trips to the doctor, ER or urgent care center allows both companies and their employees to save tens of thousands of dollars. Further, insurance brokers and employers care about reducing healthcare claims because claims affect future premium costs. Some seasons generate more claims than others! In the northern regions of the U.S., winter brings on colds, flus and respiratory illnesses that put more people in doctors’ offices, urgent care centers, and hospitals than any other time of year. The colder temperature forces us to stay inside, where close quarters make transmission of viruses easier.

Let’s break it down by season to see the real value of telemedicine at different points in the calendar year.


Flus and colds run rampant in the colder months. People often need medical treatment to prevent spreading illnesses and to treat symptoms––which means a trip to the doctor and, in some cases, a prescription. While an average cold may not put most employees out of the office completely, it will drain their energy and decrease their productivity.

In a 1,000-employee company, telemedicine can divert around 44% of urgent care visit costs and 35% of doctor’s office visit costs. With the winter average of 140 calls to telemedicine, your company will save $15,000 just this season.


Allergies are common diagnoses as the flowers and trees bloom in the spring. Pollen hits the air, everyone gets sniffly and itchy, and springtime in the office becomes a season where we blow through tissues rapidly. Depending on the severity, alleviating allergies can require antihistamines, decongestants, inhalers, or nasal sprays from the doctor.

Nearly 70 calls from employees to a telemedicine provider in the spring can be expected––which will save $14,728 in avoided in-person physician visits.


As kids go out to play in the warm summer weather, they are vulnerable to summer illnesses. These include poison ivy (an uncomfortable side effect of an otherwise great summer hike!), bug bites, and upset stomachs from unexpectedly spoiled food. An increase in activity also increases the likelihood of dehydration, sprained joints, or broken bones.

Using telemedicine for the latter symptoms will avoid 44% of urgent care visits and 8% of expensive ER trips. In a company of 1,000 employees, telemedicine can save more than $12,000 this season.


Much like winter, fall is a peak time for viral illnesses to spread quickly. As schools resume, kids spend more time indoors and in close proximity to their peers. Cases of influenza and the common cold increase as our immune systems are exposed continuously to viruses––and symptoms like a runny nose, coughing, and throat irritation often lead us to seek prescriptions from primary care physicians.

A telemedicine call avoids 35% of these visits. In just the fall season, a company can expect to save nearly $5,000 in just physician’s office costs, $9,000 in urgent care costs, and a whopping $14,000 in avoided ER visits.

Savings can start in any season. When it comes to actually implementing telemedicine, thinking outside the benefits box can pay dividends. Starting implementation with telemedicine companies outside the benefits cycle makes an impact on healthcare costs immediately.

Ultimately, you should rest easy knowing telemedicine diverts many of the claims costs that bring a financial burden on all parties involved. And that’s good news in any season!

Originally published Dec 2, 2015 8:27:31 PM.