While telehealth is traditionally known for convenient, at-home access to urgent care, widespread adoption fueled by the pandemic has paved the way for additional healthcare services via a virtual platform. As consumer demand surges, virtual primary care is entering the scene as a game changer for patients, providers and businesses seeking robust and affordable healthcare benefits packages.
The World Health Organization reports up to 90% of all health issues can be treated via primary care, which is especially noteworthy given that a huge chunk of Americans don’t even have a primary care doctor.
This means millions of people are forgoing routine services that help prevent long-term health complications and expensive (and often unnecessary) hospital visits. For businesses, this translates into sick workers, higher insurance rates, reduced productivity and increased absenteeism ― bottom line and morale busters that are easily preventable.
While it’s clear that brick-and-mortar primary care is effective, it comes with convenience and access barriers that inhibit people from seeking services. Virtual primary care, on the other hand, eliminates these barriers for consumers and businesses alike ― without sacrificing quality of care.
Maximize Your Health Benefits Budget
American companies spend up to $32 billion per year hospitalizing employees for preventable conditions, according to UnitedHealth Group. With annual checkups, early intervention and chronic care management, employees can leverage primary care to avoid future complications that would impact their ability to work — and even with insurance, copays for these complications can be costly:
- Emergency room trips cost an average of $1,474 per visit
- Urgent care visits cost an average of $100 per visit
- In-person primary care averages $25 per visit
- Virtual primary care costs next to nothing
Many employees avoid seeking care altogether due to high deductibles and copays, especially those supporting families on working wages. Virtual primary care lowers out-of-pocket costs and ensures employees receive the help they need, when they need it. And, healthier workers equal healthier bottom lines for businesses.
Improve Employee-Wide Health Outcomes
Although primary care is proven to significantly improve long-term health outcomes, the Journal of the American Medical Association reports 25% of adults in America don’t have a regular doctor — and this number is quickly increasing among younger, working demographics.
It’s important that all employees establish an ongoing relationship with a provider who understands their personal history, medical issues, lifestyle and goals. Such bonds can increase quality of care: Harvard University reports better communication improves diagnoses, as people feel more comfortable sharing symptoms they might not otherwise disclose with a doctor they trust.
Patients with a go-to provider are also more likely to receive preventive services like vaccines and screenings for cholesterol, blood pressure and cancer. This helps doctors identify and treat certain conditions early, before they become more serious.
Additionally, primary care serves as a gateway to behavioral healthcare. The Center for Disease Control reports mental health issues among employees cause 200 million lost workdays per year, costing businesses up to $44 billion. Yet, only 29% of those struggling have sought treatment in the last year. Primary care helps connect employees to behavioral specialists who will help them manage depression, anxiety and other mental conditions on and off the clock.
Support Accessibility for All
Visiting a brick-and-mortar office for primary care may be difficult for those in rural areas or with hectic schedules, from arranging transportation and childcare to enduring long commutes that cut into work and personal time. Plus, these doctor offices are generally open during regular working hours only ― when your employees are working themselves.
When it comes time for a checkup and the patient feels perfectly healthy, they’re even less likely to tolerate these inconveniences. The doctor’s office may also be intimidating or embarrassing, depending on the concern at hand. But what if the appointment came to them, instead?
Virtual primary care can help offset these barriers, replacing long drives, waiting rooms and in-person interactions with care on their schedules, when and where they choose, from a phone, computer or mobile device. MeMD patient data found that more than 80% of primary care concerns can be addressed without in-person appointments, still providing the same positive health outcomes as in-person care.
Gain a Competitive Edge
Record-high quit rates amid the Great Resignation resulted in 48 million Americans voluntarily leaving their jobs in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Insufficient benefits were a noteworthy reason for quitting, as Glassdoor’s Employee Confidence survey found 80% of employees prefer additional benefits over a pay increase.
A comprehensive healthcare package can help you stand out from the crowd when searching for top talent that sticks around. Higher employee satisfaction and retention and less turnover are just a few of the many advantages better benefits may bring.
Whether virtual or in-person, primary care is a strategic addition to any company healthcare program. In this win-win scenario, businesses that educate their employees about the advantages of primary care and offer virtual options can benefit from higher utilization rates, reduced absenteeism, lower costs and an all-around happier, healthier workforce.