This is the first article in a 2-part series on telehealth. Don’t miss the rest of the story on the value of telehealth within a connected health care system.
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Telehealth is where health care and technology connect. It allows people to get care electronically — through video, phone, or online — anytime, from anywhere. It’s transforming care delivery and changing the way people think about health care, creating exciting opportunities for individuals and businesses alike.
The benefits of telehealth are clear. Access to care wherever you are. More personalized and empowering experiences. Getting care without taking time off work. And telehealth has the potential to help solve bigger health care challenges, too — issues that impact everyone.
Making care more accessible
Telehealth makes medical advice, diagnoses, and prescriptions for a range of conditions available remotely, without in-person visits. This can help remove barriers like distance, traffic, and inflexible work hours — anything that can prevent or delay access to care.
People who wait too long to seek care risk developing more serious, complex, and costly health conditions. But when your employees can choose how and when they get care, they’re more likely to get health issues resolved quickly and efficiently. For example, Kaiser Permanente members have several options. They can connect with a doctor by phone, video, or secure email — or get advice from a medical professional 24/7. So they never have to choose between waiting for an appointment or making an unnecessary trip to the emergency room, or worry about missing work to go to urgent care.
Using resources more effectively
Effective use of telehealth technology could eventually reduce the demand for clinic space and other resources that can drive up individual and employer health care costs. That’s because some of the most convenient ways to access care quickly — like communicating with a provider by phone or email — are also the least expensive.
Telehealth connectivity also expands provider reach. Doctors can care for people in multiple locations — people who live in remote areas, or have mobility or transportation issues — addressing growing concerns about provider shortages. And when telehealth is part of a connected system, it helps providers deliver care sooner, resulting in fewer procedures, shorter hospital stays, and healthier outcomes — all of which can potentially lower health care costs.
Saving valuable time
In many ways, traditional health care is still a 9-to-5, Monday through Friday, operation. This presents a real dilemma for working people — having to miss work can deter them from getting care when they need it.
Telehealth gives employees the freedom and flexibility to access care when and where it works for them — whether it’s from home in the middle of the night or from work on a lunch break. And your employees’ time is valuable. When you factor in scheduling an appointment, driving to the doctor’s office, sitting in the waiting room, actually visiting with the doctor, and driving back to work, that time adds up fast.
Meeting the needs of the modern health care consumer
More and more people are using devices like smartphones, fitness trackers, and wellness apps to stay healthy. They’re showing great interest in accessing care through the digital tools they already use:1
- 74% say they would use telehealth services if they could.
- 76% prioritize convenient access to care over face-to-face interaction.
- 70% are comfortable communicating with their doctor by text, email, or video.
And consumers aren’t the only ones eager to use telehealth technology. Nine out of 10 large group employers are projected to offer telehealth services to employees in 2017.2 It’s a win-win situation for them — telehealth can help speed up care delivery, streamline care experiences, and lead to better health outcomes for employees. Telehealth also saves time and makes it easier for employees to manage their whole family’s health, which can help them stay present and engaged at work. All of these things can potentially keep your company’s health care costs down — and, most importantly, help your workforce stay healthy.
Now that you’ve seen how telehealth is transforming care delivery, learn why telehealth works best in a connected system.
- 1The Promise of Telehealth for Hospitals, Health Systems, and Their Communities, TrendWatch, American Hospital Association, January 2015.
- 2Large Employers’ 2017 Health Plan Design Survey, National Business Group on Health, August 2016.
Services covered under your health plan are provided and/or arranged by Kaiser Permanente health plans: Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., in Northern and Southern California and Hawaii • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia, Inc., Nine Piedmont Center, 3495 Piedmont Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30305, 404-364-7000 • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc., in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., 2101 E. Jefferson St., Rockville, MD 20852 • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest, 500 NE Multnomah St., Suite 100, Portland, OR 97232 • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington or Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Options, Inc., 320 Westlake Ave. N, Suite 100, Seattle, WA 98109 • Self-insured plans are administered by Kaiser Permanente Insurance Company, One Kaiser Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612
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