What do employers want from telemedicine?

Industry experts estimate that by 2018, 80 percent of employers will be offering a telemedicine benefit to their employees. To uncover what’s behind this growth, and to gain an understanding of employer involvement with and perceptions of telemedicine, American Well, creator of the Amwell telemedicine app, conducted a broad survey. They invited companies of all sizes, from small organizations with fewer than 1,000 employees to large companies with over 20,000 employees. They heard from companies across a variety of industries, from banking to biotech to health care to manufacturing to retail and more.

Their benchmark survey gathered 241 responses from Human Resources benefits managers, brokers, and other individuals responsible for purchasing employer benefits. Here we share key insights.

Employer telemedicine is on the rise

Their findings confirm that telemedicine is on the rise in the employer market.

One-third of employers already offer telemedicine. In fact, for the largest organizations surveyed (organizations with more than 5,000 employees), that number is even higher—39 percent.

These numbers represent a significant increase from 2014, when only 22 percent of employers offered telemedicine.

They anticipate this momentum will continue, as 49 percent of employers who had not yet deployed telemedicine reported plans to add this benefit by 2016.

They identified five key reasons employers are increasingly embracing telemedicine. They see telemedicine as a tool to help with the following:

  1. Reduce medical costs
  2. Improve access to care
  3. Make employees happy
  4. Improve employee productivity
  5. Attract new talent

Among employers that were unsure when they would add telemedicine, the overall theme was a need for education regarding the benefits of telemedicine and potential ROI. They anticipate that the survey will help fill in these knowledge gaps and provide employers in the awareness and consideration phases with the information they need to make an adoption decision.

Employers have a broad vision for telemedicine use cases

They surveyed employers both about the services they currently offer through telemedicine and about the services they want to offer in the future—and the responses in both cases went far beyond urgent care.

Employers have expansive vision when it comes to telemedicine.

After urgent care, the top five use cases for both current and future services are general health assessments, behavioral health, diet and nutrition services, diabetes counseling, and smoking cessation.

Many employers also expressed interest in more specialized services, some of which are occupational health, asthma counseling, and lactation support.

Market impact

Although there is still much to learn about the impact of a telemedicine benefit for both employers and employees, our survey uncovered information that is not only valuable to employers, but that also impacts health plans, private exchanges, and health systems.

The message across all markets is that there is a demand for this service, and organizations that do not yet offer the benefit or have plans to do so risk becoming laggards.

Urgent care will not be enough to satisfy employers—they are looking for a robust telemedicine offering that supports their wellness programs and specialized use cases.

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