What Is Telemedicine?Telemedicine involves administering medical care to patients in real time through an app or other form of digitally mediated communication. The delivery of telemedicine may involve video conferencing, traditional calls, text messaging, or any combination thereof.
Why Should My Family Business Offer Telemedicine?
Cost ReductionCost reduction is one of the primary benefits gained by employers when they offer telemedicine as a healthcare alternative to their employees.
The ability to receive primary care in an on-demand and remote fashion can help patients avoid engaging with more involved and expensive forms of care, such as visiting the emergency room. According to a 2019 study published in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, each emergency room visit that was successfully replaced by telemedicine resulted in savings that ranged from $309 to $1,546.
While the savings are not always that substantial, the same study revealed that the average net savings of receiving care through telemedicine, as opposed to a traditional doctor visit, ranged from $19 to $121. These savings add up quickly and can save your family business large sums of money in the long run.
Reduced AbsenteeismTelemedicine programs can help employees get the healthcare they need while maintaining their normal work hours. Most telemedicine platforms offer 24/7 on-demand care – meaning that your employees might not need to leave work in order to visit the doctor’s office before it closes.
Moreover, telemedicine visits are on average 20 percent shorter than in-person visits, not to mention zero travel time. This significant reduction in the time required for an appointment means that employees are able to visit the doctor during their lunch break if they so choose.
Additionally, in the event that one of your employees is sick, there is evidence that telemedicine will allow them to return to work more quickly. According to Adam Darkins, the former Chief Consultant for Telehealth Services for the Veterans Health Administration, telemedicine programs caused a 44 percent reduction in hospital readmissions.
In short: telemedicine can help keep your employees out of the hospital and in the office.
Improved AccessWith telemedicine programs, patients are able to interact with specialists and doctors that they may otherwise not have the time or finances to travel to. This is especially helpful for employees in industries such as agriculture or timber, which tend to be more remotely located.
Drawbacks?While there are many benefits to telemedicine, it is not without flaws.
On-demand telemedicine services often connect patients with a random healthcare provider. This means that the provider will not have a personal relationship with the patient or a knowledge of their medical history that is as in-depth as a traditional doctor might have. Employees may find this decrease in the continuity of care to be troubling, and it is something worth considering when weighing whether to incorporate telemedicine into the health plans offered to employees.
Additionally, telemedicine requires access to the internet and a device with functioning audio and video capabilities. Employees without easy or consistent access to those technologies might find implementing telemedicine to be an unnecessary burden.