“Today, if virtual care is not part of your health care strategy, your health care strategy is not complete.” – Brian Marcotte, president and CEO of nonprofit National Business Group on Health (NBGH).

Wise words.

Back in 2014, the American Medical Association (AMA) endorsed telemedicine as a way to deliver care to patients. At that time, AMA president Robert Wah stated, “Telemedicine can strengthen the patient-physician relationship and improve access to receive care remotely, as medically appropriate, including treatment for chronic conditions, which are proven ways to improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs.” 

And consumers agree. A 2018 survey conducted by consulting firm Deloitte revealed, 64 % of respondents cited convenience and increased access as important benefits of virtual care.  And in some instances, virtual care is seen as better than in-person care. Cynthia Burghard, a research director with the analyst firm IDC, pointed out in an interview with Computerworld that, “Because of a shortage of primary care physicians and nurses, virtual visits help to ‘off-lift’ the low-level care that often occurs with an on-site visit due to patient loads.” So it stands to reason that telemedicine should be part of any company’s health care strategy.

The good news is that, according to more recent research from NBGH,  “Nearly all large employers now provide telehealth or ‘virtual care; as an option for employees, and 20 percent of employers said the services are used annually by 8 percent or more of their workers. Just over half of respondents said their top health care initiative in 2019 was adding more virtual care solutions.” 

Of course, a large part of the adoption is driven by cost. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the cost of employer-sponsored health care benefits were expected to reach $15,000 per employee last year, with large employers covering approximately 70 percent of those costs. Experts suggest that employers that don’t offer telemedicine make changes to their benefit packages – including adding or enhancing access to telemedicine options, could see costs rise by 6 percent.

Here at Lionrock, we know online care works, and our clients do too. With online intensive outpatient programs, client an get help from the privacy of their home. As a result,  our clients start their sessions relaxed, and find it easier to discuss their problems. They feel it’s safe to talk. There’s no commute. And, they don’t have to worry about seeing people they know at a local outpatient facility. As a result, they find it easier to stay with treatment, because of flexible schedules that fit work and family commitments. They can even continue treatment while traveling.

So whether the driving motivator is cost or quality of care, savvy employers will add or enhance telemedicine to their health benefits package. What are you waiting for?