Why Telemedicine Has Such Great Appeal

Written by on December 1, 2016 in Practice tips - No comments

According to Benefitfocus’ 2016 State of employee Benefits report:

  • 52% of large employers offer a minimum of one high-deductible health plan
  • 41% of employees select a high-deductible plan when it’s available
  • Health Savings Account with a high deductible seems favorable to many
  • 59% of large companies now offer telemedicine as a benefit
  • More insurers are implementing digital health services

The thing is, patients must pay for healthcare until the deductible is covered. This has made consumers look closely at the cost of each medical service- especially the office visit at their physician’s practice.

The Solution: Telemedicine

While an office visit may run $125-$150, depending on the diagnosis, the same fee for a telemedicine visit will cost $40 on average. Even better than the cost saving is that it is covered tax-free under the health savings account for patients that have them. For those needing a regular exam, this cost saving is huge

Additional Benefits

Telemedicine also offers:

  • Accessible care for chronically ill or bed-ridden patients
  • Health care availability for rural populations
  • Medicare supplement for seniors
  • Access to medical professionals 24/7

Telemedicine is attractive to employers because it:

  • Is an attractive perk to add to an employee package
  • Shows that employers care about employee well-being in the workplace
  • Allows employees to seek medical care without taking a sick day (alleviating the financial and mental stress of having to take a sick day from work which may or may not be covered with pay)

The advantages of telemedicine are much more than just cost-saving incentives. It is a remarkable comprehensive health care plan that is both cost-effective and readily available.

Both physicians and advocates for telemedicine see it as the next major health marketplace, especially for seniors.  Now 20% of the populations is over 65 years of age and live in suburban areas distant from their doctor’s practice. Telemedicine enables them to seek wellness measures.

By providing educational seminars, videos and informational brochures or newsletters to explain telemedicine in a way that employees can not only understand it, but also see advantages like potential savings, employers will be able to encourage employees to enlist in their telehealth services. Once they understand the system, there will be greater utilization in the digital medicine arena.

Telemedicine and the Physician

As a physician, participating in telemedicine means having the ability to “see” your patients at night without having to crawl out of your pajamas and make the trek to a hospital…especially in the cold winter months approaching.  It also enables you to follow up with your patients to ensure that they have been compliant with medication or recovering properly from procedures.

Being active in telemedicine also gets you more visibility. The community that translates to prospective and eager patients will come to you instead of other doctors because you offer the service and because they were satisfied with the service that you offered. (To date, not every physician offers telemedicine options)  This also means referrals to you by their friends and family members (who may want to see you in person at your office)

So, the growth of telemedicine is a no-brainer.  You don’t need a crystal ball to predict that it is going to grow by leaps and bounds as more patients learn about the benefits.  It is good for the patient, attractive to the insurance companies and great for the physicians.  A win-win-win!

Have you put your toes in the pool of telemedicine yet?  I strongly recommend that you do so now while it is still a nascent field or you will get left behind by your competition….and I believe that it is something that you will really enjoy!

By Barbara Hales, M.D.
www.thewritetreatment.com

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