Telemedicine is evolving into a tremendous tool for employers looking to help their workforce reduce overall health spending. Telemedicine is defined as “the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology.” Offering consumers the ability to interact with a doctor without physically having to go to the doctor’s office, telemedicine is an employer-based benefit. Employees provided with a telemedicine product through their employer are asked to create an online medical profile. A network of doctors are available for remote consultation via mobile technology as needed and are able to treat easily diagnosed illnesses. Offering a convenient and less time-consuming alternative to visiting the doctor, telemedicine provides employers with a substantial ROI and employees with quick and immediate access to healthcare.
Once an employee has established his or her existing medical conditions as part of their profile, a doctor can easily treat ongoing issues. For example, a parent may call about a child with frequent ear infections who has developed symptoms and needs an antibiotic. Or, a diabetic can call if they run out of insulin. If a caller’s symptoms fall outside the realm of a common condition, they will be referred for in-person medical consultation.
Telemedicine will continue to grow as it becomes more commonly associated with an existing medical plan and as the employee population becomes more comfortable with mobile technology. The challenge becomes the quality of the medical care provided – however, doctors are more and more frequently becoming trained to work in the telemedicine setting.
John Carletti is the National Practice Leader – Specialty Benefits at Univers Workplace Solutions.