In most parts of the country, winter is known for two main things: bad weather and the spread of germs. Unfortunately, those don’t two don’t always play nicely together -- the last thing anyone wants to do is venture out in a blizzard to get treatment for a virus or an injury. Nobody wants to be stuck in the dilemma of risking their safety to get the care they need.
A great solution for this dilemma is telehealth. Although widely underutilized, telehealth provides a number of benefits that employees should be paying attention to. Here are some of the benefits for choosing telehealth this winter, along with ways to increase participation:
No need for travel.
The most impactful benefit of telehealth is not having to travel. So if there is snow or ice, there is no need to battle dangerous driving conditions to get care. You can talk to a healthcare professional through a chat system or video chat to determine the best course of action. They can write prescriptions and suggest a care plan without you having to leave your home. If they do feel your condition requires urgent care, however, they will help you determine the best course of action to take.
Access to better care.
Telehealth is especially impactful for those who live in rural areas, where the best care takes place in major cities that may be further away. The dangers of driving in bad winter weather conditions are magnified when you increase the distance. Not taking on the risk and expenses associated with seeking traditional medical care is a benefit that shouldn’t be ignored.
No longer foregoing care.
Sometimes those in need of care put off doing so in order to save money, avoid taking time off of work, or avoid traveling during treacherous winter conditions. With telehealth that’s no longer necessary. People can get the care they need without being restricted to a doctor’s office schedule, or limited by the weather conditions.
Doctors benefit as well
Doctors also benefit from telehealth in the winter months. They can use the telehealth portals to communicate with other healthcare professionals across other hospitals, so they can receive specialized consultations without having to travel in bad weather. It also gives doctors the freedom to close their offices for bad weather but still continue to see patients who need care.
How to get employees on board
With so many benefits, you’d expect participation rates for telehealth to be high. However, the Telehealth Index: 2019 Consumer Survey reported differently. It revealed that there are some key barriers that prevent telehealth from being more widely adopted. Here’s what employers can do to overcome them:
- Make sure employees know that telehealth is covered in their plans. Out of the 66% of people who reported they would use telehealth, almost a quarter reported that they don’t know if their healthcare plan covers it. Make sure people are aware of what telehealth is and that their plan covers it, so they know it is a viable option.
- Emphasize the credentials of telehealth medical professionals. Sometimes people are hesitant to leave their health in the hands of unfamiliar providers. Craft your telehealth plan with major healthcare providers within familiar networks to ease uncertainty.
- Communicate the benefits. Make sure everyone is aware of the benefits of telehealth for themselves and for their families. Communicate the benefits in a way that resonates with your specific workforce -- some relate more to the technology aspect while others may relate with the convenience factor for their families.
Unfortunately, illnesses and injuries don’t care what the weather is when they strike. This winter, be sure to get the care you need while staying safe from winter weather conditions by utilizing your telehealth benefits.