Everyone Wants Telemedicine. So Why Aren’t Your Employees Using It?
It feels as if telemedicine has been the “next big thing” in health care for a long time now. According to Mercer’s National Survey, by now most employers with at least 500 employees report that their employees have access to telemedicine services (71%), either through their health plan or through a specialty vendor contracted outside the plan. But in most organizations, employee utilization rates remain frustratingly low.
Telemedicine can be a win for both the employee, who benefits from greater convenience and lower out-of-pocket costs, and for the employer – if, for example, employees make fewer unnecessary trips to the ER or urgent care. But it only works if employees use the service, and employers with programs in operation in 2016 reported that just 7% of eligible employees, on average, used telemedicine at least once.
Changing behavior is hard, and changing healthcare behavior seems especially hard. How can you encourage employees to try telemedicine? Most likely, you will need to take action on two fronts – plan design and communications.