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Prioritize a healthy workforce with access to virtual care

Man at his desk taking part in a video conference

Telehealth has quickly become one of our nation’s most essential health care services — a safe and low-cost way to access care.

Millions of users have now experienced and embraced what telehealth has to offer. Many won’t go back to traditional ways of getting care, including your employees. To meet the evolving preferences of your workforce, you should offer a health plan with connected virtual care options.

The struggle between balancing work and health

Most health care services are available 9-to-5, Monday through Friday. This can present a real dilemma for working people, who may have to take time off work for health appointments. This can also lead to delayed or missed care because employees can’t or don’t want to take the time off:

Studies show that 3 out of 5 employees say they would be uncomfortable leaving work for a preventive appointment, and nearly 9 out of 10 would reschedule because of workplace pressures.1

Too often, the commute to the appointment alone is considerably longer than the amount of time spent with a doctor. Studies show that it typically takes 2 hours to see a doctor for only 20 minutes.2

Infographic with title: it typically takes 2 hours to see a doctor for only 20 minutes. 2. Illustration of a car with caption: 37 minutes of travel; illustration of a man looking at his watch with caption: 64 minutes of waiting; illustration of a doctor speaking to a patient with caption: 20 minutes with the doctor.

The benefits of virtual care

In 2019, virtual care was underutilized. In 2020, due to the pandemic, it became an integral part of providing care and will only become more prominent. Virtual care refers to the broader ecosystem of telehealth offerings, which use digital technologies such as video, phone, and email to connect patients and providers.

Ease and convenience for employees

By offering a health plan with integrated virtual care options, employees can get convenient access to care no matter where or when they need it – without the need to travel to a physical location.

  • Phone and video appointments
  • Secure email
  • Online chat
  • Wellness apps
  • Remote patient monitoring
illustration of a woman looking at her phone screen with a doctors picture on it, surrounded by icons of other health professionals, a calendar, various health tests, health information, and prescriptions

Improving access to care

Some employees may live in rural communities that don’t have the specialists they require or they may not be able to afford the time off work and gas to see specialists consistently. However, virtual care can:

  • Expand access for employees who may not live near specialists
  • Enable remote patient monitoring to keep track of symptoms
  • Allow employees who are at higher risk of COVID-19 to safely access care

Potential cost savings

Each in-person appointment employees don’t need saves employers an average $158 in direct costs and 2 hours of work time.3 When employees get the right care at the right time, they’re healthier, more productive, and more engaged, which translates into a healthier business and bottom line. Especially since the majority of patient issues are resolved within the first virtual care visit.

Illustration of a man having a virtual doctor's appointment at his work desk, with caption: Each in-person appointment employees don’t need saves employers an average $158 in direct costs and 2 hours of work time. 3

Additionally, virtual care could drastically lower health care overutilization or unnecessary health care services.4 When patients are unsure about what care they need, many visit urgent care or the emergency room. Because of this, 1 in 2 telehealth users said they would have gone to urgent care or the emergency room if telehealth wasn’t a readily available option.5 This can drive up costs for you and your employees.

In-person and virtual care needs to be connected

Telehealth is typically delivered by third-party providers, and it’s treated as a one-off, separate product. That means quality, cost, and available services can vary wildly. When virtual care is delivered by a third party, patient records get scattered, health information becomes outdated, and doctors can’t coordinate care or make fully informed decisions.

With integrated virtual care, employees get accessible, timely care from providers who can access their health history, without having to worry about cost or quality. This can keep employees healthier and more present at work.

An ideal health care partner should:

  • Coordinate member care across virtual and in-person services
  • Consult with specialists to review and advise on a patient’s plan in real-time if medically needed
  • Provide care themselves, rather than through a third-party vendor
  • Embrace telehealth across the entire care continuum

A partner that meets that set of criteria is going to be the best choice for employers and employees alike.

Illustration of a man talking through a checklist of his concerns with his doctor

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  • 1

    By the Numbers: The Conflict Between Work and Health, Zocdoc, October 11, 2016.

  • 2

    Kristin N. Ray, MD, MS, et al., “Opportunity Costs of Ambulatory Medical Care in the United States,” The American Journal of Managed Care, August 2015.

  • 3

    Established patient visit, level 3, Kaiser Permanente Sample Fee List, 2022. Cost varies by region. Rhyan, Altarum, February 22, 2019.

  • 4

    Dale H. Yamamoto, Red Quill Consulting, December 2014.

  • 5

    See note 4.