Modern technology is completely changing how we receive medical care. Thanks to the Internet and video services such as Skype, people can now effectively consult with doctors remotely, a practice known as telemedicine. As a result, people are able to get medical advice much more quickly and also save themselves a few trips to the hospital or doctor’s office.
Companies are taking advantage of this technology by investing in office space dedicated to telemedicine. This can be an efficient way to keep your workforce healthier while also reducing your out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Adding a Telehealth Space
All a telehealth space needs to be is a private room in your office where employees can go for their telemedicine needs. It doesn’t have to be complicated: Pick a small room and set it up with a phone and a computer with a video camera and access to Skype (or another system for video calls). This way, your employees can virtually connect with a doctor during the workday.
If you’d like to get more out of this space, you could install medical equipment to measure blood pressure or take an employee’s body temperature. This provides key information for doctors as they inspect your employees remotely and can help with their evaluation. Furthermore, an HR team member could work with this initiative by helping employees understand their received medical advice in terms of health plan options.
Finally, you could also use this room for mental health care. Companies such as LiveHealth Online are launching new programs where employees can connect with a psychologist straight through their smartphones. Regular psychology appointments used to mean leaving work constantly, but with this new service, employees can attend their appointments without ever leaving the office.
Weighing the Benefits
Telemedicine can be much more cost-effective than seeing a regular doctor: On average, a telehealth appointment costs about $100 less than a face-to-face appointment. Over the course of a year, this will definitely add up.
In addition, employees receive the medical advice they need without taking time off for a physical appointment. A doctor may even send a prescription remotely so your employees can go straight to the pharmacy without ever having to see a doctor. The time savings here are a bonus. At the same time, if a health condition is contagious or serious, a telehealth appointment helps employees make a quick decision in terms of sick days: They don’t have to take a guess on their health and balance it with work priorities until they actually are able to get a physical checkup.
You could also incorporate this system as part of your office wellness program. Employees could have regular consultations, with the online doctor measuring their progress against certain health goals. This wasn’t really feasible before telemedicine because employees couldn’t leave work to go to the doctor’s office every week, but with telemedicine, frequent correspondence is a greater possibility.
Make Sure It’s Being Used
Your employees should be encouraged to use your telehealth room whenever they think they need it, not just for big reasons. It’s preferable that they call in and catch a contagious disease early rather than waiting until they’re extremely ill and have infected other members of the workforce, and if it turns out that they’re fine, they’ll get that answer right away so they can go back to work and stop worrying. Because it’s less expensive to use telemedicine, you should also encourage employees to go there first before seeing a doctor in person. This can help reduce out-of-pocket expenses for both you and your employees.
Be sure to also stress the importance of privacy, because employees need to be comfortable sharing their medical history while at your office. Let your employees know that everything they discuss with their doctor in your telehealth room is confidential. Make sure employees can only enter by setting an appointment with an appointed gatekeeper, such as a receptionist or HR team member.
We’re entering a new era of health care. By investing in telemedicine, you’ll be able to provide full medical services for your employees within the convenience of your own workspace.
David Rodeck is a professional freelance writer based out of Delaware. Before writing full-time, he worked as a health- and life-insurance agent. He specializes in making insurance, investing and financial planning understandable.