Telehealth Benefits and Challenges: Increasing Employee Engagement and Utilization

Telehealth provides fast, convenient care that’s more affordable than a visit to the doctor’s office. Like any healthcare option, telehealth comes with its own challenges, but the benefits make it more than worth it for both employers and employees. Why, then, are some companies still on the fence about

How Is Utilization Tied to Costs?

Telemedicine can be a win-win for both employees and employers: it remarkably improves employee health while keeping health care costs in check. By the way, it is also a huge factor in job satisfaction and employee retention, and it makes your draw-in more attractive for prospective employees.

However, while many employers today offer some form of telehealth offering, the actual use of these services remains shockingly low. Averages for telehealth adoption currently range from 13% to 17% of visits across all specialties.

Obviously, the more people use the service, the better it is for companies and their employees. An employee who maintains routine and preventative care will see overall health care costs drop over time.

Telehealth ensures faster consultations and treatment, reducing the possibility of visiting the emergency room or needing urgent care. In addition, appropriate primary care saves on potential specialist bills and expensive copays. Employers also save on costs such as lower health care premiums and claims. It is important for employers to express these key benefits to their employees to increase their utilization of telemedicine.

High use rates among employees translate into increased levels of employee engagement, happiness, and productivity. However, these benefits mean very little if employees don’t actually avail of these services.

Companies should keep a close eye on their telehealth use rate—and choose a partner that’s able to deliver in terms of employee engagement and service utilization. When selecting a service provider, value for money is key. Even if it means paying a little extra, the subsequent return on investment will be more than worthwhile.

How Telehealth Benefits Employee Engagement

While telehealth adoption certainly has its own challenges to overcome—like any new program—your team is sure to love the benefits. Comprehensive health care remains a major motivator for job seekers; it’s essential for companies wishing to attract and retain top talent. A survey conducted for America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) in January 2021 underlines the significance of employer-provided coverage. Among those surveyed, 75% said it influenced them choosing their present job, while 78% said it played a role in remaining in their current position.

But while they may have access to health care thanks to their insurance, it’s not always the most accessible in practice. Many employees simply can’t afford to take half a day off for every little problem—so they ignore discomforts that might (and probably will) become larger issues down the line. What good is a program they don’t have time to use?

With virtual appointments, employees don’t have to take time off to visit the doctor. Forget those long, unpredictable hours spent in waiting rooms and commuting to and from the clinic or doctor’s office. They’ll be able to set up a telehealth session during the workday with little-to-zero disruption, downtime, or lost productivity. And since distance isn’t an issue, it’s possible to visit any provider in your state.

Telemedicine isn’t only about primary care; it also offers accessible mental health care. Telehealth increased across the board during Covid-19, but these services were—and continue to be—used at a particularly high rate for patients with behavioral health issues. In fact, as of 2021, it accounted for 39% of all telehealth outpatient visits-more than double the number (11%) in 2019.

From an employer’s perspective, telehealth reduces absenteeism, improves productivity, and lowers health care costs. Employees make fewer in-person visits for non-emergency conditions that are often easier and more cost-effective to treat over a virtual consultation. This translates to bigger savings for employees AND for employers, thanks to a decrease in total health care claims.

How Can You Increase Employee Engagement?

It’s clear that overcoming engagement challenges is key to accessing the many benefits of telehealth. But how do you do so? It would seem like the moment is ripe for this service. After all, telemedicine uptake soared during the pandemic, when employees were stuck working from home all day. Even so, not everyone is yet familiar with how it works, and others might need some encouragement in the beginning.

Often, one of the biggest obstacles to use is a concern about costs. This is why a prepaid model like Doctegrity’s proves so successful at increasing employee engagement. There’s no need to worry about copayments or surprise bills—a sure selling point for staff!

But employees need to understand what telehealth can offer them beyond just the time- and cost-saving advantages. For instance, do they know it commonly covers most non-emergency conditions, includingmental and behavioral health?

How can employers get all this important info across? There are many different ways to get the word out—emails, posters, online resources, Q&A programs, the list goes on. Consider individual health rewards, recognition programs, or corporate discounts when the company reaches a set utilization percentage.

Some telemedicine providers include employee engagement and education as part of their package. Alternatively, an employer might need to develop their own well-targeted engagement strategy that considers employees’ demographic particulars and specific health needs.

Telehealth Benefits and Challenges: Finding the Right Provider

Employee health and wellness needs are changing rapidly, particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic and the rapid increase in hybrid and remote work setups. In the wake of the “Great Resignation,” it’s even more important for employers to offer the best benefits to ensure employee retention and attract top talent.

Around 95% of firms with 50+ employees included telemedicine services in their largest health care plan in 2021, compared with 85% in 2020 and 67% in 2018. With these figures and the many advantages for employees and employers, it’s obvious that telehealth today is an essential part of any healthcare benefits plan. Furthermore, it can be introduced as a supplemental benefit—so there’s no need to overhaul your entire existing plan structure.

Identifying the right telehealth provider involves a lot of thought and debate. As one of the leading providers in the market, Doctegrity makes the choice a lot easier. For a better solution at a lower price, contact Doctegrity—and get the coverage you need today.