BY SUSAN KIM-VAN DONGEN, CEO
Self-insured companies take on the financial risk for workers’ health benefits, so they are always looking for new ways to deliver better, more cost-effective care options. Innovation through the appropriate use of technology has become a primary trend in bringing the best value to self-insurers and their employees.
But the dizzying array of new technologies, coupled with growing concerns about data security, present a confusing maze of choices. Technology decisions were once left to IT teams. Today, technology is a strategic tool that can improve clinical, financial and operational outcomes. In this new environment, where should self-insurers prioritize healthcare technology investments?
Start with Telemedicine
An integrated telemedicine solution is a good place to start. As compared to early telemedicine sessions that often suffered from spotty network connections and disjointed doctor/patient interactions, recent technology advancements make today’s telemedicine a positive experience and a high-quality care option. And many of today’s telemedicine solutions are fully interoperable with other electronic health record (EHR), safety and human resources systems, which allows them to provide extremely valuable data to employers.
In the self-insured setting, telemedicine is a win-win for employers and their employees alike. Let’s talk about the benefits it offers to each group:
Employee Convenience and Productivity
The time it takes to drive to the clinic, sit in the waiting room, see the doctor and then drive back to work can have a major impact on worker productivity, morale and perception of how significant the injury is and how long it will take to recover. Telemedicine enables workers to quickly schedule an appointment online and meet with a doctor from an onsite clinic, a workstation or even through a simple app on their smartphone.
Employees can schedule and complete follow-up appointments in minutes instead of hours. And clinicians can send prescriptions electronically to the pharmacy, so workers can easily obtain the medication they need without waiting a second time or worrying about misplacing a paper prescription.
Fast access to care means workers are more likely to address health issues as they arise and stick to follow-up appointments, both of which are critical for better outcomes. It also means they’ll take less time off work to get the care they need, minimizing lost productivity and the need for other workers to do their job while they are out of the workplace getting care.
Employer Savings and Visibility
In addition to efficiency and productivity gains, telemedicine offers significant cost savings to self-insurers by helping employees stay out of traditional care facilities. For example, a study conducted in 2013 indicated that an average ER visit cost $1,233. When the injury is not a “true” emergency, using telemedicine as the first line of care instead of the ER saves the employer a significant amount of money. The savings multiply when the entire workforce uses telemedicine instead of this brick-and-mortar option.
In today’s increasingly data-driven care environment, access to real-time information gives employers the visibility they need for better decision-making. With a telemedicine solution that fully integrates with other business tools, comprehensive care and claims data is immediately available for employers to view and analyze. This enables them to stay informed and more easily monitor progress, identify potential risks and quickly respond to inquiries.
But be careful – healthcare data is an extremely valuable asset and cyberattacks are getting more sophisticated every day. Make sure that any telemedicine solution you consider is fully HIPAA-certified and offers the highest levels of data security with a clean track record. The security of employee health data should be taken as seriously as the safety of your employees.
A Holistic Approach
A holistic approach to employee safety, health and wellness is the care model of the future. And technology solutions like telemedicine are making it a reality today. By adopting a technology-centric and data-driven approach to care, self-insured companies will create healthier workforces, increase productivity and reduce costs. And that’s a win for everyone involved.
GoHealthNow supports this vision with our innovative occupational health and wellness technology platform, designed with the needs of self-insured employers in mind. Personalized health information and telemedicine sessions keep workers healthy, productive and motivated. And employers gain insights into the real cost of care through comprehensive data in a secure portal with easy-to-use dashboards and analytics tools. Watch this video to see how our telemedicine solution works and contact us for a free demo.