Telemedicine – talking to a health care professional by phone or video – has been around for years, but it was slow to catch on as people preferred in-person appointments. Then the pandemic stepped in.
During the pandemic, people were encouraged to use telemedicine to avoid coming in contact with those who might be infected with Covid-19. Employers embraced the option as a cost-saving measure inside employee benefits.
Three years later, the market for telemedicine is gaining strength. Many have gotten used to visiting the doctor virtually. And for those without a primary care doctor, many telemedicine platforms now have primary care service. As a result, drive time and sitting in waiting rooms has been eliminated. If the patient is sick, there is no need to go out in bad weather to get diagnosed. For those who just don’t like going to the doctor, they can still tend to their health without leaving the house.
While it’s a boon for patients and employers, telemedicine also assists with the shortage of health care workers, specifically in the mental health sector. Scheduled phone or video appointments enable health care professionals to be more efficient and work with more patients during the workday.
A New Path
As telemedicine becomes more widely used, it could change the way we care for ourselves and our families, because telemedicine platforms often include alternative health care options.
One of the main tenets of telemedicine platforms is a robust health risk assessment. This helps the virtual health care provider get a baseline on your medical history, family history and prescription drug use.
Some offer pharmacogenetic testing to determine how an individual’s body will react to drugs and treatments. Others provide a wellness coach alongside the physician to urge patients to adopt healthy lifestyle choices such as eating right and exercising. In addition, a few platforms have made significant investments in order to offer robust mental health and psychiatry services. Given the stress of the last few years, a focus on mental health is extremely important right now.
Still other telemedicine platforms focus on better management of chronic diseases such as Crohn’s disease and psoriasis, without the use of expensive drugs. This focus has the potential to drive significant cost savings to the employer’s health plan.
Needless to say, employers stand to reap the benefits of telemedicine as much as patients. Beyond the potential to reduce spending on health care, maximizing the employee experience and improving member health are invaluable.
For those considering using telemedicine, ask the following questions to determine if it fits your needs.
- Is the doctor you will work with board certified?
- Can you select your own primary care doctor and see them on a regular basis?
- Will the information about your telehealth visits be included in your official medical record? Make sure your medical records talk to each other, so all health professionals you see can access your full history.
Oswald can help you find the right telemedicine option for your employee benefits plan.
For more information, visit our Employee Benefits page or contact me directly:
VP, Risk Leader, Group Benefits
Note: This communication is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to offer legal, tax, or client-specific risk management advice. Information in this communication is not meant to describe specific coverages that may be advisable or available to you or your company, or to interpret specific coverages that may already be in place. General insurance descriptions in this communication do not include complete insurance policy definitions, terms, and/or conditions, and should not be relied on for coverage interpretation. Actual insurance policies must always be consulted for full coverage details and analysis. View our privacy notice.