It has been nearly two years since we’ve begun experiencing the tragic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. During these times, the demand for healthcare services has increased sharply, with individuals fearing for their safety and overall wellness. Yet the provision of healthcare services heavily relies on physical contact, face-to-face discussions, and trusting relationships between medical practitioners and patients. The good thing is, constant innovations of technological platforms have paved the way for the creation of telemedicine. This has also created new benefits from an organizational perspective: offering healthcare perks like free and routine telemedicine directly contribute to increased, positive employee engagement. And as an added bonus, such an offering establishes responsive corporate social responsibility from employers, HR managers, and business owners all around the world.
In light of this matter, we’ll be looking into the many benefits of telemedicine and how it can help employees – even in their homes – to achieve tip-top health this holiday season. In addition, we’ll provide an overview of how integrating telemedicine in employee healthcare plans can increase employee engagement and act as an outstanding retention strategy.
Why Telemedicine Is More Important Now than Ever
Protection of Medical Personnel and Hospital Patients
COVID-19 is primarily spread through droplets that contain the virus, floating in the air. As such, a person can be infected by inhaling the virus or by touching a surface that has the virus on it.
As much as possible, healthcare facilities such as hospitals and clinics are limiting visits to avoid spreading the virus any further. With clinics, healthcare facilities, and outpatient departments closing for routine checkups, telemedicine has become the best alternative to face-to-face consultations.
The Comfort of Having a Consultation at Home, on Your Schedule
Aside from protecting yourself, your family, and others from COVID-19, telemedicine allows you to check in on your health without much effort. The convenience of contacting your doctor from your home office, or even from the comfort of your bed, is unmatched.
For employees who are working from home, this medical revolution saves both time and energy. Unlike before, an employee needn’t bother with submitting a time off request to visit a provider’s office during working hours, as the visit can be accomplished in a few clicks – and oftentimes within just a few minutes. Indeed, telemedicine embraces the frontier of digital transformation that goes along with remote work in every corner of the world.
Increased Healthcare Access
Healthcare coverage is among the many causes of financial distress among employees, and many enrollees are not aware of how to best use their plans. Before telemedicine was widely available, it was not uncommon for employees to put off visits to the doctor due to scheduling conflicts, heavy workloads, or unfamiliarity with the providers available to them. With the convenience of telemedicine as a bundled perk with healthcare coverage, however, more and more employees have access to a variety of doctors and medical specialists, each with their specialties summarized directly on the platform. This access has led to increased levels of awareness, and empowers employee action toward better health and wellbeing.
Added Support for Specialists
When you look into how certain specialists – such as radiologists, cardiologists, and psychiatrists – work, it becomes clear that they’re required to run diagnostic procedures before they are able to provide the proper care and services to a patient. Before telemedicine, an individual subjected to these diagnostic procedures was forced take several trips to hospital laboratories or diagnostic centers, wait for the results, and follow up to ensure the specialist had access to their files.
Telemedicine now allows for psychiatric evaluations from the comfort and safety of one’s home, softening the social stigma often associated with seeking care for mental health. In addition, this virtual platform bridges diagnostic centers and facilities directly with specialists, allowing these providers to compile results and interpretations before contacting a patient for a consultation.
This simplified access to crucial care improves employee engagement and the overall employee experience. After all, employees appreciate organizations that prioritize their health and wellbeing. In fact, surveys have indicated that organizations that make an effort to improve employees’ mental health are more profitable and experience less employee turnover.
Better, More Comprehensive Assessments
It is not uncommon for individuals to experience pain or discomfort due to their surroundings. For example, a patient suffering from allergies may be unwittingly surrounded by environmental factors that trigger their condition.
A doctor conducting a telemedicine evaluation may be able to look into a patient’s surroundings, especially at home, that may be contributing to their condition. Furthermore, with the patient’s permission, doctors may also talk with other members of the household for more information that will help in condition assessment.
Simplified Routine Check-ups and Chronic Condition Management
In light of the pandemic, clinics and health facilities have been forced to cancel routine appointments to minimize virus transmission. Oftentimes, only those in need of urgent healthcare services are prioritized. As such, many patients feel like their health is being compromised.
The good news is, the digital transformation that has enabled telemedicine makes it possible for individuals all over the world to connect with their family physicians for routine check-ups, without risking the exposure or further spread of COVID-19.
The Positive Employee Impact of Integrating Telemedicine with Healthcare Plans
Telemedicine in an organizational setting allows employers to provide healthcare perks that will benefit both the employees and the organization in the long run. Integrating telemedicine as part of a health insurance benefit is no doubt a compelling retention strategy and increases employee engagement for a more productive, happier workplace.
During the onboarding process, HR managers can highlight telemedicine as one of the many perks of being hired into your organization. Your team can also use various internal communications to increase employee engagement, by reminding existing employees that medical plan enrollees have access to telemedicine opportunities.
After all, in this busy time of merriment and celebration, even remote workers might have a hard time following up with regular health checkups. Telemedicine is a simple, effective way to prioritize health while navigating through the buzz of winter holidays and the upcoming New Year, and it communicates outstanding corporate social responsibility to not only your employees, but to other businesses as well.
Breaking through Telemedicine Barriers
Despite the increasing accessibility of telemedicine, it is still not often taken advantage of. Surveys have shown that despite having a considerable level of awareness for its availability and features, only about 19% of respondents have actually made and attended a telemedicine appointment.
The many benefits of telemedicine integration within healthcare plans are not enough to simply overcome its usage barriers. For organizations looking to encourage the use of revolutionary telemedicine services to improve overall health and wellness, here are several strategies to try.
Providing Adequate and Relevant Information
How can employees take advantage of available telemedicine opportunities when they are not aware of them? Tackle this barrier by providing adequate and relevant information regarding telemedicine to urge employees to set up an appointment.
You can introduce telemedicine through a variety of channels: during new hire onboarding, via directed internal communications, during team meetings, and more. You can also have partner medical practitioners or on-call physicians conduct refresher overviews regarding the benefits of this service. These methods will not only lead to an increase in telemedicine use, but will positively impact employee engagement as well.
Establishing Relationships with Physicians for a Better Telemedicine Experience
One common barrier for telemedicine use is that employees may not feel as comfortable as they would in a face-to-face consultation. To navigate this discomfort, organizations can set up dialogues between medical practitioners and employees to “introduce” each other. This may involve emphasizing the credentials of physicians, leveling the expectations of employees, and more.
Truly, the gift of health is an amazing present to receive this holiday season. By integrating telemedicine into an employee’s healthcare plans, organizations exemplify their commitment to corporate social responsibility.
Consider adding telemedicine to your Total Rewards package in the upcoming plan year, and empower your employees to take care of their health. When shared values between are evident, your employees will be more likely to rise above their performance expectations and take on new challenges. This increased employee engagement and productivity, combined with the wellness benefits of simplified, accessible healthcare, will lead to a happier, healthier workplace.