One of the biggest changes consumers will deal with in the future are those brought about by the Affordable Care Act. With its enactment, as many as 30 million people will become eligible for health insurance. As a result, wait times to see a doctor will grow along with the higher patient volume. This works in favor of practicing physicians but sets up a barrier to health care for employees that need it.
The type of health care plans employers is choosing for employees is also changing. More employers are opting for plans with higher deductible and/or co-payments based on the belief that these plans save money. Unfortunately, they don't fully acknowledge the impact these plans will have on employees. With the higher co-payments and long wait times, employees will be reluctant to seek medical care when they need it. The result will be more employee sick days and lower productivity.
Fortunately, there's another option - telemedicine. The reality is seventy percent of minor health care problems can be handled by phone and don't require an office visit. With telemedicine, employees have 24/7 access to board-certified doctors 365 days a year via phone or online video consultation. With telemedicine, employees have 24/7 access to board-certified doctors 365 days a year via phone or online video consultation. Telemedicine doctors are trained to assess patients, answer questions and offer treatment for minor medical issues that don't require an office visit. Routine problems like sore throats, colds, allergies and headaches can be quickly assessed and appropriate treatment prescribed without the inconvenience of a doctor's visit. Health problems get addressed quickly and employees get back to work faster. It's a solution that works for employee and employer.
Large companies are already embracing telemedicine, including many Fortune 100 companies and these numbers are expected to grow. Why the increased interest in telemedicine? Employees enjoy the convenience telemedicine consultations offer. Time is a valuable commodity, and the ability to consult with a board-certified physician 24/7 is a time saver for sick employees and their families. Employees and their families get access to medical care whether they're at home or on vacation. It also saves employees and their families' money by reducing out-of-pocket expenses for deductibles and co-pays. This leads to happier employees.
Employers can reap the benefits of telemedicine too. When employees are forced to deal with a wait time to see a doctor, treatment is delayed. That means more missed days from work. Telemedicine also reduces health care costs for employers. What company isn't concerned about cost containment?
How well does telemedicine work? Last year, 91% of all telemedicine consultations lead to diagnosis and treatment. Employers frequently spend money on wellness programs, but telemedicine leads to a faster ROI. It also offers greater employee satisfaction.
Telemedicine is expected to continue its growth trend. The internet has spawned a society that craves immediate gratification, especially when they're sick. Telemedicine taps into this trend by providing immediate access to health care and makes it more affordable. It also facilitates earlier diagnosis, so employees can get back on their feet and return to work as quickly as possible. Everyone benefits from the affordability and convenience of telemedicine. It's a trend that will continue to grow as more companies realize its advantages.