Virtual doctor visits also known as telemedicine, telehealth, and e-health is a great step forward in the healthcare industry for individuals and for companies that sponsor health insurance plans. Virtual visits have created a path for connecting people and physicians and provide a better value for all.
Virtual visits use technology, usually a computer, tablet, or smartphone, to connect a doctor and patient for evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment. Patients may also be able to obtain prescriptions for some common issues, depending on state laws.
The virtual doctor visit is still a developing area in health care and employers should regularly educate themselves and employees to take full advantage of these programs which are often already part of the company’s offered medical plans.
Trends in Utilization of Virtual Doctor Visits
The accessibility and affordability of virtual doctor visits has great appeal to all, and especially to employers looking to create opportunities for health care savings. According to a survey released by the National Business Group on Health, 97 percent of large employers in the U.S. are predicted to offer their employees access to telemedicine services by 2019. Does your company offer a plan that covers virtual visits yet?
Benefits of Virtual Doctor Visits
Virtual Visits offer many advantages to consumers and can be as or even more beneficial than a traditional in-person doctor’s visit. While virtual visits cannot replace all the aspects and benefits of face-to-face care with a primary physician, it can be a helpful and cost-effective supplement or replacement for certain traditional medical care.
How to Overcome Challenges of Virtual Doctor Visits
Though virtual visits and virtual mental health services clearly have their advantages, there are also a handful of disadvantages and potential legal pitfalls.
How to Promote Virtual Doctor Visits to Employees
The way in which employers communicate any benefits information to employees has a huge impact on how well the programs are understood, utilized and perceived by employees. Talking to your employees specifically about virtual visits is a great topic year-round that helps save them money, time, and stress.
Creating Your Virtual Visit Communication Plan
There are a variety of steps to take when developing a communications plan, including the following:
Prepare your communication plan of action.
- Determine who will prepare your benefits communications and the costs involved.
- Designate responsibilities for the preparation of each communication. Be sure to consider both internal and external assistance. Check with your carrier and broker to get access to their existing materials for virtual visits.
Understand benefits communication responsibilities and get organized.
- Develop a plan that includes required, as well as optional communications that may be helpful. Setting up a timeline makes it easier for you and your team to stay on track and timely with your message to employees.
- Keep employees and beneficiaries informed of changes to their benefits, and explain confusing terms and features of the plans. For example, carriers may change their covered virtual visit provider, the name of the website may change, or it may be hard to find the applicable copay. Keep employees in the loop to ensure they can receive the care they need in the manner of their choice without hassle.
Select, prepare and distribute communications to fit corporate objectives and employee needs.
- Decide what type of communication will be most appropriate for relaying messages to employees. Phone calls, email, text, carrier pigeon? One size doesn’t fit all, generally, a mix of communication methods will help you cover all the bases of your employee population. You can always ask employees how they’d prefer to hear about benefits information.
- Make sure your communications plan includes frequent communications so that the topic is top of mind for employees when it becomes time for them to consider using the benefit.
Evaluate the effectiveness of your benefits communications.
- Survey employees and make recommendations based on feedback.
- Review behavior after communications are distributed. Did your communications show an increase in virtual visit usage or discussion among employees?
- Revise your communications to meet realistic goals and expectations, your employees’ needs, your communication plan objectives and your organization’s requirements.
Employers are ultimately responsible for educating their employees about the health coverage options they offer, including telemedicine coverage. Bringing better communication and education tools to employees about how to save money and time is never a waste. Employees will be grateful for information provided that is easy to understand, timely, and accurate.
Not sure where to start with promoting virtual visits? Contact the experts at Austin Benefits Group to find out more about our custom benefits communication and marketing plans.