Telemedicine: the financial and health benefits

Telemedicine is growing in popularity among employers. And with good reason.

Telemedicine is the logical product of three 21st century forces: rising health care costs, technology and impatience. The idea is simple: for minor ailments, you can receive medical advice over the Web from a doctor instead of making a visit.

The time savings alone make it appealing to both employers and employees alike.

For minor ailments, telemedicine could prevent a trip to the doctor – and the time lost from working or family time. For employers, telemedicine could be a cost-effective way to provide health care for bumps, bruises and sniffles.

There is also evidence that telemedicine can provide cost savings, too, even when it comes to more complex or serious issues. A recent UC Davis study found that pediatric telemedicine saved more than $4,500 per utilization made by rural hospitals connecting with the Pediatric Critical Care Telemedicine Program at the university.

The downside? In some instances, it can’t replace a doctor’s visit. To some, it will feel impersonal. And there are costs to implement the services. Simply put, it might not be for every employer. There are cultural and financial issues to weigh, certainly.

Nevertheless, telemedicine as an employee benefit is here to stay, given our interconnected world and the need for greater efficiency and cost-saving for employers. For more information, contact an employee benefits client service team member at 847-307-6100 (Deer Park, Ill.), 312-606-4800 (Chicago), 972-770-5010 (Dallas) or 405-840-3033 (Oklahoma City), or contact us via the Web. We’re here to help — and happy to help.