Boosting Employee Usage of Telehealth Benefits
Studies show that a majority of people who have used telehealth services appreciate the convenience, cost-savings and quality of care – and many prefer telehealth consultations to in-person visits with doctors. But some companies are still finding that not all of their employees are enthusiastically embracing their telehealth benefits.
Why? The reasons range from being satisfied with their current doctor, discomfort with technology in general, lack of corporate communication about how to use the benefit, lack of troubleshooting support when an employee has problems utilizing telemedicine, and general skepticism about the quality of care delivered by a remote provider.
The good news is that it’s easy to get employees excited about using telehealth services. Once they have that first virtual appointment, chances are excellent that they will become regular consumers of telehealth care.
Telehealth Training Is Essential
While your tech-savvy employees may be happy to dive right into telehealth and figure it out as they go, many workers will be hesitant to use the benefit without hands-on training.
Begin by scheduling a workshop to provide an overview of how telehealth works. Let your employees know what telehealth does best: provide treatment for everyday ailments, like the flu/colds, simple infections such as sinus or ear infections, allergies, skin rashes, digestive problems, and other concerns. Make sure employees know that they can get a diagnosis and treatment– including a prescription if needed – 24 hours a day, from wherever they happen to be.
Let them know about the financial benefits too:
- Typical ER Visit: $1,500 to $3,000
- Average Doctors’ Office Visit: $130 to $190
- Telemedicine consultation: $40
- With :DP HealthNow: $0 for telehealth visits
It’s very important to encourage employees to activate their telehealth benefits ASAP. To provide quality care, each telehealth patient must complete and fill out a health record. This record is kept on file, and reviewed by the healthcare professional before each virtual consultation. It typically takes less than ten minutes to complete the form, but unfortunately many people wait until they need medical help to activate their telehealth account. No one wants to be filling in forms when they aren’t feeling well. Encourage all of your employees to get their forms filled out and their accounts activated as soon as they are enrolled in the telehealth program. Doing so will almost certainly increase usage of the benefit.
Be prepared for privacy questions. People will want to know how their health information is protected online. Ask your telehealth benefits provider about privacy protections and security practices so you can provide solid answers. Privacy and security are valid concerns whenever digital services are utilized. Let employees know that telehealth services are carefully regulated, and providers offering these services in the United States must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Under HIPAA, patients’ medical records must be protected, and medical information is confidential.
Also, note that adult family members eligible to use the employee’s telehealth benefit will need to fill out their own health records. Your employee can fill out the forms for their children.
Make sure that you have answers, or a way to quickly get answers, to any questions or problems that an employee may have when they first sign-up to use the service. You don’t want people to get discouraged or frustrated, and they may be hesitant to come to HR with what seems like a trivial question about how to log-in for the first time.
Employees will also be curious about what happens during a telehealth visit. Ask your benefit provider about training collateral that they may be able to offer you to walk people through the process.
And let your employees know their options for a virtual visit. With comprehensive offerings, such as :DP HealthNow, employees can opt to use the web, an app on a smart device, or phone to have a consultation. They can choose a video visit, or can simply talk to the doctor. If they opt for a phone conversation they can upload images to help the doctor diagnose their concern, or simply answer the doctor’s questions.
Telehealth options also include how employees choose to use this benefit. Those with established relationships with a doctor will likely continue to turn to that doctor for their health needs. Let them know that telehealth services complement their existing medical care, and they can choose to use telehealth for issues that don’t merit an in-person visit to their doctor.
Telehealth Champions Increase Benefit Usage
Your early adopters can help ease other employees into using telemedicine. Ask employees to let you know about their experiences with the benefit. Enthusiastic users may become official or unofficial champions of the benefit in their department. Other employees may find it easier or more convenient to discuss the service, and any concerns they may have about using it, with a trusted peer rather than in a training session.
Bottom-line: no matter how much training you do, one breakroom conversation about an employee’s great experience with the company telemedicine benefit will almost certainly result in an uptick in usage.
Be Your Own Telehealth Advocate
Remind employees about ways to use their telehealth benefits. This doesn’t have to be time-consuming and it should be useful and fun. For example, during flu season, remind employees that telehealth is an excellent way to get early, effective treatment for influenza – and avoid exposure to the flu germs that are almost certain to be present in the doctor’s waiting room. Some telehealth providers, like :DP HealthNow, even provide an engagement program free of charge to educate employees about their benefits and provide increased utilization.
It won’t be long before telehealth is simply just another way of getting healthcare, not a new offering that requires training and advocacy to spur usage. Until then though, the best way to see ROI on telehealth is through education and encouragement.
To find out more about telemedicine plans and how you can incorporate telehealth into your benefits offering, visit DPHealthNow.com.