How to get employees to take advantage of telemedicine

With internet and smartphone penetration rates growing within our society, labor productivity has reached unprecedented heights. Technology has also opened the doors for employee healthcare. This brings telemedicine into focus. From cost savings to increased convenience, telemedicine can benefit employers in various ways.

Despite telemedicine’s obvious benefits, utilization rates remain as low as a mere 7% of employees,  according to a study conducted by Mercer, although 71% of employees have access to telemedicine.

Therefore, there is still a healthy dose of confusion surrounding what this service actually provides.

So, given all the benefits telemedicine can bring, what can be done to increase its utilization? For both employers and employees, here’s what you need to know.

What is telemedicine?

Telemedicine originated as a solution to treating patients located in remote places where healthcare infrastructure and professionals were in short supply. When unexpected health problems arise, patients can simply consult a qualified doctor via call or video chat at a click of a button on their mobile phone.

In many cases, the doctor can choreograph follow up treatments either face-to-face or through a call in addition to providing the preliminary diagnosis, such as calling in prescription drugs or ordering lab tests. 

Why telemedicine?

Telemedicine services are an efficient and cost-effective way to provide high quality healthcare services to your employees. Telemedicine allows small to medium companies to reap the benefits of having an onsite doctor while enjoying lower healthcare costs.

Increasingly, we will see digital healthcare services being used by corporates driven largely by employee preference – in a recent survey by Deloitte, 80% of employees are willing to consult a medical professional or receive healthcare virtually. This will be a trend as healthcare services are delivered more efficiently with technology.

  • Risk diversification

Having a healthcare provider at the employee’s fingertips can reduce unnecessary and expensive emergency care and encourages time-challenged employees to seek preemptive measures before their condition becomes debilitating.

  • Increased workplace efficiency

Moreover, workplace productivity is maximized as the quality of employee health is increased. Employees suffering from chronic illnesses may find it difficult to take time off work to attend regular doctor appointments. Telemedicine allows employees to monitor their vitals in their personal time and receive an immediate diagnosis, which reduces workplace absenteeism.

  • Cost savings

On average, a virtual appointment with Kent Ridge Health costs 40% less than an physical consultation. Telehealth services also reduce office co-pays for employees while lessening claim costs to the employer’s group healthcare plan.

  • Better quality of employee health

On the employees’ end, telemedicine also helps optimize their time by saving the hassle of  going back and forth from the doctor’s office, giving employees more of their life back — not to mention their savings.

Aside from emergency care, going through public health channels can mean that patients are required to wait for prolonged periods of time to receive their healthcare services. This is often the case with specialists or even routine medical procedures like physicals and immunizations.

From our experience, 60% of medical consultations can be completed virtually as employees need simple medication and rest. This frees up capacity in physical clinics for patients with serious medical conditions that warrant face-to-face attention from medical professional.

With telemedicine, a doctor can go over a patient’s digital health record to coordinate care with hospitals and treatment avenues sooner. In some cases, such as symptoms of cancer, heart and lung problems, this can be a matter of life and death.

But it’s not simply about the cost savings, it’s also about the continuity of care

While telemedicine can be effective in particular situations, a standalone telemedicine service can result in a more fragmented healthcare experience. This is where we have developed EUDA, a healthcare ecosystem. Apart from enabling users access a suite of healthcare services ranging from Primary Care to Emergency Medicine, they can be assured that they receive integrated care from network partners who are able to understand their individual health and wellness needs with EUDA. Users will also be able to access the best-in-class healthcare technologies integrated into the ecosystem to drive better healthcare outcomes for themselves.

What can employers do?

In addition to providing telemedicine, employers can designate a special telehealth space that employees can book during the workday. These spaces can provide video screen, phone, and medical equipment that enables remote monitoring, such as blood pressure cuffs.

Most importantly, employers must ensure that employees understand when not to use telehealth, such as for emergencies, injuries or suspected chronic illnesses.

To promote the usage of telemedicine, companies should provide ample communication channels in the form of emails, mailed postcards, and even elevator posters. Make sure to also reinforce the professional expertise and credentials of the telehealth practitioners.

The future of telemedicine

In the near future, telemedicine service can also augment other types of benefits such as mental health benefits and addiction recovery. A full stack digital healthcare service will help drive better employee healthcare outcomes with a data driven, technology focused approach.

The Kent Ridge Health Insights is published by Kent Ridge Health, an AI-drive healthcare company with offices in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, China and Indonesia.

Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. Kent Ridge Health Private Limited and it’s subsidiaries, make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.

Sources: One Medical, The Balanced Careers, Employee Benefits Adviser, SHRM

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