How telehealth can save employers money

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The health care industry has plenty of issues to tackle: rising premiums, increasing out-of-pocket expenses, shrinking networks and prescription drug price inflation. “Health care cause’s people headaches,” said Reid Rasmussen, co-founder and president of freshbenies.

Telehealth can help, he said. The communication and technology tool can address each of the aforementioned issues, Rasmussen said recently at EBA’s Workplace Benefits Summit in Orlando, Fla.

Individuals can use telehealth to ask doctors primary care questions, and it can also be used to address short-term needs, triage and/or illnesses that require a prescription, he said.

Telehealth saves employers money on claims that are guaranteed to happen, Rasmussen said. When asked what they would do had they not called, 89% of people said they would seek treatment at a brick-and-mortar health center, Rasmussen said, citing data from his company. Most, 42%, said they would go to an urgent care clinic, 39% would go to the doctor’s office, 8% would go to the emergency room and 11% would do nothing.

Telehealth works for employers of all sizes, Rasmussen said. Citing real clients, he told of an individual employee saving $200 on a procedure and an employer who saved six figures in a year.

‘It’s all about engagement’

But savings aren’t going to happen if employees don’t utilize their plan. “It’s all about engagement,” Rasmussen said.

The best telehealth models are ones that don’t require a consultation fee, he said, because that increases participation. Rasmussens asks his employer clients to do three things to make sure their employees use their telehealth plan. Those include: 

  • Executive support;
  • Providing employee email addresses so reminders can be sent;
  • Work to get more than half of employees to create their health profile so they are prepared prior to their first telehealth consultation.

When employers are successful in these three areas, engagement reaches 90%, Rasmussen said. 

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