Many organizations are searching for ways to reduce costs and increase profits when it comes to health care expenses. This is especially true if they’re self-funded expenses. One of the best ways to reduce the amount employees must pay is to utilize options that will lower the need to visit a primary care physician for simple issues. Telemedicine makes it easier for employees to skip spending large amounts of money on office visits for colds, sore throats, flu symptoms or other minor but irritating medical issues. However, telemedicine doesn’t mean ignoring the need to see a primary physician for more serious matters.
If a person needs a simple non-narcotic prescription for a simple diagnosis, a quick phone call to a physician is the easiest solution. One of the biggest advantages of the phone call is that it’s free to both the employer and employee. In addition to both parties saving money on an office visit, unless the employee is sick with a contagious illness, the employer may not need to lose the employee for an hour or more for an out-of-the-workplace doctor visit. Since there are so many advantages to telemedicine, it is gaining a great deal of popularity.
This new technology involves exchanging medical information about one patient with various sites and health care providers through electronic communications. By sharing the information and contributing a group effort, the goal is to improve each patient’s health status. Although many new technologies are expensive when they first surface, telemedicine is an exception. It is relatively inexpensive. However, there are a few challenges that come with it. Regulatory procedures and steps are one of the biggest challenges. For example, a specialist who is in another state may have issues electronically prescribing medicine to a patient in a separate state where licensing restrictions are different.
In addition to the above example, only a few states have requirements in place for insurers to provide coverage for telehealth care. Equipment for telehealth can be installed in small clinics, physicians’ offices, workplaces and hospitals for amounts between $10,000 and $100,000. Although the technology isn’t intended to replace communication with a primary care provider, it is beneficial for obtaining care quickly when it’s otherwise difficult to find. Research shows that about 50% of the population is optimistic about this new form of technology and would be eager to use it. The following benefits are the reasons why telemedicine is growing in popularity:
It is cost efficient. Reducing costs and maintaining affordable rates are two of the best reasons for adopting one of these plans. Shorter hospital stays, less travel time and shared health professional staffing are just a few examples of ways money can be saved.
Employees enjoy better access. Telemedicine is the best way for patients who live in remote areas to receive the care they need quickly. It also allows physicians and other health care professionals to expand their spectrum of care beyond their offices.
It provides a way to meet patients’ demands. The biggest advantages of telemedicine are enjoyed by the patient, the patient’s family and the community. Research over the past several years has shown that patients are consistently satisfied with the time and money saved by using telemedicine.
Employers who want to increase their profitability and help their employees save money should consider adding telemedicine to their overall plan. Companies that wish to provide these services can access them by contracting with a vendor that offers telemedicine services. They can also be accessed through a discount medical plan organization. To learn more about telemedicine, discuss the available options with one of our agents.