Companies nationwide quickly realized the value and demand for telehealth services as the pandemic pressed on. Safe, convenient urgent care over the phone or computer became imperative to workplace and public safety. Now, many businesses are coming to yet another realization: telehealth can be leveraged for everyday healthcare to save money, bolster the company’s bottom line and improve employee wellbeing and productivity.
Virtual primary care is the next big thing in the telehealth and benefits worlds. Now accustomed to seeking care for common illnesses and injuries via a virtual platform, employees also want their routine care and chronic care management in a convenient and accessible manner. Not only are employees excited about this development, but businesses are experiencing myriad cost-saving advantages as well.
Choosing the right virtual primary care partner is key to realizing these benefits. As you explore solutions, let these five questions guide your decision.
What services should my virtual primary care plan include?
Your plan will not be a suitable replacement for traditional primary care unless it covers all the services you would expect from a brick-and-mortar provider. Otherwise, you could end up with an inadequate yet costly program. Shelling out even more money for services that can’t be handled via phone or computer.
At a minimum, your telehealth partner should offer the following virtual services:
- Annual wellness visit
- Routine follow-up appointments
- Ongoing management of chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure
- Prescription discounts
- Referral process that connects members with necessary specialist care
- 24/7 urgent care for common illness and injuries
Along with these in-person services (arranged on members’ behalf through partner labs and clinics):
- Physical examinations
- Routine screenings such as colonoscopies, cholesterol checks, prostate exams and urinalysis
- Routine vaccination
How will the program cut my healthcare costs?
You know telehealth is a less expensive option than in-person care. But how do you make a clear case to your team? How can your telehealth partner help?
Clear and Competitive Pricing:
You want a partner that provides comprehensive primary and preventive care. As well as a clear list of services and straightforward PEPM pricing so you can understand and anticipate savings.
Immediate Cost Savings:
Virtual primary care visit fees are dramatically lower than traditional primary care. As a result, businesses should save money every time an employee chooses telehealth over an in-person visit. Virtual primary care visits also won’t go against a company’s health claims, which will save money at renewal time. Plus, a telehealth partner can provide additional cost savings to the employer and employee alike via prescription discounts.
Saving money is important — but how do you quantify the savings? Your partner should provide regular reporting that offers a clear look at how your company’s telehealth program is performing, from utilization across the workforce and redirection cost savings to overall ROI for the business.
Savings Over Time:
Primary care is linked to better health outcomes and lower costs over time. Providers can identify health problems early on and intervene before serious and costly issues arise. In addition, primary care providers play an important role in the management of chronic diseases, improving outcomes for patients while also mitigating health expenditures. Five chronic diseases or risk factors — high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking and physical inactivity — cost U.S. businesses billions because of employee absenteeism.
What does provider accessibility look like?
Choose a telehealth partner with a team of state-licensed, board-certified providers offering primary care expertise, specializing in emergency medicine, internal medicine or family practice. Your partner should offer access to primary care providers nationwide, after hours and on weekends. And for those unexpected health issues, 24/7 access to urgent care providers for common illnesses and injuries should be standard. Moreover, the ideal partner provides ongoing monitoring of patient outcomes and member satisfaction — this will be reflected in high patient satisfaction scores.
Will my employees use the service?
During the pandemic, telehealth became an indispensable part of the nation’s healthcare system and a preferred means of accessing care. All signs indicate telehealth will continue to grow in use and popularity.
That said, it’s important to choose a partner that will support your efforts to get staff on board with virtual primary care. You won’t save money unless people are using the program!
Ask the following:
Is the service easy to use?
Accessing virtual primary care should be simple, intuitive and user-friendly — for anyone, regardless of age or experience. Look for a single sign-on experience to make it quick and easy to request a visit. Prioritize partners with care coordinators who can streamline the intake process and ensure technology is working properly.
Is it available outside of the traditional workweek?
A common complaint about in-person care is that offices are only open on weekdays, meaning employees have to take time out of the workday to see a doctor. A virtual primary care provider should offer appointments in the evenings and on weekends too. Expanding hours and availability allows employees to access the care they need without major interruptions to their day.
Is there a dedicated navigation team?
In addition to increasing appointment accessibility, a telehealth partner should help members navigate the healthcare system. A navigation team can take the complexity and hassle out of scheduling a doctor’s appointment. Further helping employees with finding appointments with specialists, at a fair price, near their homes or offices.
Can employees pick their primary care provider?
This additional value supports the continuity of care and enables patients to develop ongoing relationships with their provider of choice. A constructive, long-term relationship enhances overall care.
Is additional education available?
Virtual primary care is only valuable if people use the service. A good partner will support your efforts to educate employees or members about the service and support enrollment efforts. They should provide marketing promotions and tools — customized for your organization – like email campaigns, web pages and other resources that make it easy for employees to get started with virtual primary care.
What administrative support can I expect?
You want a partner that will offer reliable and timely administrative support throughout the lifecycle of your relationship.
Take the time to understand exactly what’s needed to get up and running with a new virtual primary care solution. Ensure your partner will make the process as simple and efficient as possible. The burden of implementing a new service often falls squarely on the shoulders of HR, but a good partner will ease that burden with a seamless and hassle-free experience, insurance connectivity with real-time benefit eligibility and deductible tracking.
Businesses that implement virtual primary care save money every time an employee chooses telehealth over in-person care. MeMD’s Virtual Primary Care solution was built with modern employers and employees in mind. Learn more about what sets our solution apart from the crowd.