A survey conducted by the American Telemedicine Association found that 78 percent of respondents who had never tried virtual care believed it would be more convenient than traditional medicine. This sentiment is further reflected in the reasons many people choose to receive remote care, which included their provider not having available appointments, needing a simple prescription refill and having issues with transportation, among others. While only 22 percent of respondents had used video conferencing for medical care, the telemedicine industry is growing. In fact, a report by Jackson Healthcare revealed the industry is projected to be worth $36.2 million by 2018, a 14.4 percent increase from 2014.
Such growth leaves a few questions. How is telemedicine impacting the health care industry as a whole? How do these changes affect insurance and employees? Triton Benefits and HR Solutions investigated this booming field to help companies and their human resources departments understand the changing health care world during a recent webinar. Here’s what it found:
“The telemedicine industry is projected to be worth $36.2 million by 2018.”
Benefits of telemedicine
Telemedicine is the practice of treating patients remotely, which comes with both hurdles and benefits. It’s important to note that telemedicine is for use with non-emergency situations only. Medical professionals working in telemedicine will refer patients in threatening situations to the emergency room. However, for issues such as understanding symptoms and refilling prescriptions, it’s a beneficial option.
As the ATA survey hinted, telemedicine allows patients access to non-emergency health care when they may not have it otherwise, making transportation a non-issue. What’s more, it can get people help right away, speeding up the diagnosis and, potentially, healing processes. Patients who aren’t sure how to proceed with care can get in touch with a remote physician to get treatment or recommendations, depending on the situation.
But what about the benefits for businesses? Telemedicine can be more affordable for employers, as the service itself may be less expensive than in-person care. What’s more, employees who may have been unable to travel to a doctor’s office or afford traditional care could get the help they need, meaning less sick days at work and a healthier staff. With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that Triton Benefits and HR Solutions revealed in its webinar that 34 percent of employers plan to include telemedicine services by 2017.