Virtual care is a rapidly growing trend in health care. It is convenient, time-efficient and affordable for individuals seeking non-emergency care. Those individuals might be your employees, and this solution could save you, as their employer, time and money.
The workforce is mobile; employees work in an office building, a hotel room, their cars, their homes or any location where they can get a Wi-Fi connection. With this reality, health care solutions need to be mobile, as well.
With virtual care, help is as close as the mobile device in a pocket or purse. Parents have the convenience of a doctor’s visit for a child with a fever without the stress of making arrangements for the other children. Virtual care can be used for the common cold and flu, respiratory infections, sinus infections, sore throats and other health related non-emergencies.
That’s nice for the patient, but why should employers be interested in this type of care?
1. 24/7 access to quality health care
Board-certified doctors are available for people who live in rural areas, those traveling or those who might not be able to visit their regular doctor. Patients can receive care anytime, anywhere, with around-the-clock access to health professionals online or over the phone. And, virtual care services are offered by reputable sources, such as hospital groups or health insurance plans. The potential to avoid lost work time is much better.
2. Virtual care is cost effective
Virtual visits usually cost far less than a non-emergency trip to an urgent care clinic or the emergency room. For example, the cost to visit the emergency room for a sinus infection could be as high as $740, while a virtual visit usually costs around $45 or even less, if the patient’s health plan offers coverage for telemedicine. The cost reduction has a positive impact on the employer’s overall health plan.
3. There are no waiting rooms
A visit to the emergency room or an urgent care clinic for a mild condition can mean sitting in a crowded waiting room for hours. This can equate to lost productivity for the employee and time away for the doctor’s visit. Some services even offer a message portal to check in with a doctor if symptoms persist.
According to Forbes, nearly 60 percent of the nation’s largest employers now provide medical coverage for telemedicine, a jump from just 30 percent in 2015. Employees who utilize virtual care are able to receive treatment sooner and get back to work that much more quickly. Employees no longer have to take a half a day off of work just to visit a doctor’s office.
Integration of technology into health care is going to improve the convenience and speed at which care is delivered. In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services has included “greater use of technology” as one of its Healthy People 2020 objectives for improving the health of all Americans.
Virtual care isn’t a trend; it is the future of health care.
Krischa Winright is chief marketing and digital officer for Priority Health in Grand Rapids.