Why telemedicine is a necessity in today’s workplace
The pandemic changed so much about the way we work. In a small period of time, many employees took an emergency crash course on how to work remotely. With that came a host of other changes, including how people accessed health care. One major change was the surge in virtual care — also known as telehealth or telemedicine — because it provided a way for people to receive medical treatment via a computer or phone.
At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, telehealth claims jumped more than 280% from March to April 2020. As the pandemic pushed mental health needs to the forefront, virtual care became even more in demand. In 2020 alone, mental health visits accounted for nearly 60% of telehealth visits among our members.
Today, virtual care is considered an affordable, safe and convenient alternative to in-person office visits. In fact, over a third of patients (38%) received care via telehealth in 2022, according to a recent report.
Here are just a few reasons to promote telehealth options to employees:
- Minimizes health care costs. The cost per visit for telemedicine is less than urgent care or an in-office doctor visit. Virtual care is great for employees who want to avoid a trip to the emergency room, or have a simple question about an existing treatment regimen.
- Offers comfort and convenience. Seeing a doctor at home when you are sick can be comforting. With telemedicine, employees and their covered family members can fit virtual visits into their busy schedules.
- Reduces absenteeism. With telemedicine, employees can access care while at work, instead of taking time off to go to doctor appointments. It’s great for employees who live or work in areas where in-person care isn’t widely accessible, or for employees who travel often.
“At Blue Cross, our employees’ health and wellbeing are a priority and ensuring we have the right benefits in place to support them is critical. For minor medical needs, we have some employees choose to use their paid break to use telemedicine, then use their second break or flexible scheduling to pick up their prescription and return to work,” says Nicki Flanagan, chief human resources officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, who is a huge supporter of telemedicine. “Ensuring employees understand our benefits, as well as how to access and utilize them is important. Telemedicine allows employees to remain productive and can decrease absenteeism, as well as the amount of paid time off they may have had to use to see their provider or urgent care.
Get the word out about virtual care
Virtual care is an affordable, convenient option, but your employees may not know they have the option. You can help them by spreading the word:
- First, they should contact their doctor, as many locations provide a telehealth option.
- If their doctor does not provide this service, Blue Cross members can access virtual care services through Amwell®. With Amwell, your employees can choose their own physician, register for a telemedicine visit and connect with a board-certified doctor in their area at any time.
- Amwell also offers teletherapy with licensed therapists providing treatment for anxiety, ADHD, bereavement, and more.
The cost of the virtual care depends on the health plan. Visit Bcbsks.com/telemed to learn more about virtual care, when to use it, and how to get started.
If you would like information about how to include or expand your employee’s telemedicine benefits, contact your Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas account representative.