Can Telemedicine Tame Healthcare Costs?

Telemedicine, meaning activities like video visits and e-visits via smartphones, tablets and computers to evaluate patients, is transforming the way healthcare gets delivered. And not just for minor illnesses. Now, comprehensive telehealth solutions even focus on chronic conditions and specialties as well.

The advantages of care on demand to patients is clear: it’s fast, easy and convenient. But virtual visits have another benefit for both employees and employers: savings. Here are four big ways telemedicine cuts costs.

1. Elimination of Office Visits: With telemedicine visits, patients don’t have to spend money on gas or waste time traveling to appointments and sitting in the waiting room once they arrive, adding up to big savings for employees and improved productivity in the workplace. And the televisits themselves are less expensive. In one study, the average cost of a virtual visit was found to be $40 to $50 compared to up to $175 for an in-person appointment.

2. Reduced Emergency Room Use: While there are obvious health conditions or situations that require emergency room care like broken bones, anywhere, anytime access to physicians not only delivers appropriate care but it’s less expensive than settings like urgent care facilities or hospitals. In fact, the average price for an outpatient visit to the latter is just over $1,900, according to a Health Care Cost Institute report.

3. Early Intervention: Instead of waiting weeks to get an appointment to see their doctor, patients can get near-instant access to care. By identifying and treating conditions earlier, telemedicine promotes employee health and well-being and prevents more serious – and costly – complications. More timely visits can also reduce the spread of illness in the office and expenses related to employee absences such as the cost of hiring temporary workers or paying overtime to staff to cover sick employees.

4. Patient Satisfaction: In addition to the direct savings, telemedicine has a high patient satisfaction rating. According to a study in JGIM, the Journal of the Society of General Internal Medicine, between 94 and 99 percent reported being “very satisfied” with all telehealth attributes, with one third preferring a virtual visit over an in-person one. By offering the benefit, employers can bolster their packages for greater retention and save on the cost of filling positions – an average of $11,000.

To learn more about telemedicine and how it works, download our overview. Or for new ways to enhance your benefit offerings, contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 877.253.9020.

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