What is Telemedicine and Why is it Growing?

July 17, 2019

Technology has reduced the hurdles of both time and distance. You can find answers to questions within seconds. You’re able to talk face to face with your loved ones thousands of miles away thanks to videotelephony. The world is getting smaller, and everything feels easily within reach.

Healthcare is also now at your fingertips. Telemedicine options can save your company money, which is why about 70 percent of large companies provide telemedicine coverage. Keep reading to learn more about telemedicine and why it’s growing as a popular option in the healthcare industry.

What is telemedicine?

The World Health Organization (WHO) says telemedicine, also referred to as telehealth, is “the delivery of healthcare services, where distance is a critical factor, by all healthcare professionals using information and communication technologies” for a variety of reasons. A doctor may easily treat a number of common ailments through telemedicine, including:

  • Allergies
  • Colds/flu
  • Infections
  • Sinus problems
  • Sports injuries

Radiologists, psychiatrists and cardiologists are the specialists most likely to use telemedicine to treat their patients.

Why is it appealing?

Telemedicine provides easy access to care without having to sit in a doctor’s waiting room. And, in many cases, virtual appointments are cheaper than physical appointments, especially for employees with High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs). For employers, telemedicine also can reduce the number of visits your employees make to urgent care or the emergency room, which reduces your premiums.

How can you educate employees on this option if you offer it through your health insurance plan?

About three-quarters of Americans say they would use telemedicine for a variety of reasons, including questions about a prescription or a pre-surgery appointment. The fact that so few do take advantage seems like an enigma, but it comes down to education. Do your employees understand their telemedicine options? Do they know their health insurance includes telemedicine?

Provide your employees with resources during open enrollment that outline how their telemedicine options work and how they’ll save money. And remind them regularly throughout the year – via email or interoffice newsletters – that they can turn to telemedicine as an option if they choose to, for some of their healthcare needs.

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