Telemedicine is having a moment in a big way, and for good reason: The ability to receive 24/7 phone- or video-based medical support offers a more affordable and flexible approach to health care — one that doesn’t require driving to and from appointments or searching ad nauseam for the right in-network provider.
Employers have caught on. In a 2018 survey, 96 percent of large employers said they planned to offer virtual medicine as part of their 2019 health benefits packages. But for all the enthusiasm of business leaders, employees themselves are slow to join the movement: The vast majority of employers see telehealth engagement rates below 8 percent. It doesn’t have to stay that way, though.
The Advantages of Telemedicine
Given the ample upsides of telehealth services, it can boggle the mind to think of so few people using them. For example, telemedicine offers:
- Cost savings. Virtual appointments cost an average of about $100 less per visit than a face-to-face appointment.
- Expanded access. Those in underserved communities — such as rural regions or areas without many specialists — can get remote expertise with a tap on their phone.
- Convenience. Virtual health is kind of like having a doctor in your pocket at all times, whether you’re experiencing a sinus infection on vacation or you’re up at all hours of the night with a sick child.
Still, many employees feel cautious. Some may distrust the credentials of a practitioner available over the phone, while others might be wary of getting an incorrect diagnosis without an in-person exam.