I’m amazed by how much today’s technology impacts my life. Texting, IM, Siri … they’ve changed the way I connect with others. And they’re changing things in health care, too.
I’ve been in health care and information technology for over 20 years. In that time, I’ve thought a lot about how we can make the patient experience less of a burden while improving health and lowering costs. At HealthPartners, we developed an online clinic that achieves just that – virtuwell. Patients answer some simple questions online, and our team of certified nurse practitioners can provide a diagnosis, treatment plan and even a prescription – all in about 30 minutes and for $45 (less with insurance).
Since our launch in 2010, we estimate that organizations and consumers have saved roughly $26 million and 72 years of time compared to traditional doctor’s visits. Whether you use virtuwell or another solution, all of us at HealthPartners want businesses like yours to succeed – and telemedicine is a great way to help you do that.
So what is telemedicine?
Think health care meets the rest of your life. It’s simply clinicians and consumers using modern communications technology to exchange information and assess, diagnose, treat and advise people about medical situations at a distance. Information can be exchanged via the telephone, photographs, text based messages, video and even medical devices. For example, people can get care for things like sinus infections, pink eye and acne without having to visit a doctor in person.
Why should my employees use telemedicine?
There are lots of reasons. The most common one is saving time and money while getting great care. Just like a traditional doctor’s visit, virtual care is safe, secure and connects people to real-life experts like physicians, nurse practitioners or other licensed providers. It’s also convenient for your employees with busy schedules. They get hassle-free care at their fingertips and avoid the long wait times, missed work days and distant travel that a traditional office visit might require. This not only improves employee health and satisfaction, it can also increase productivity in your organization.
Great! Now how do they use it?
Accessing virtual care is easy. Employees can use it when and where it works best for them, though the experience varies by provider. Some providers offer care over the phone or via webcam, while others simply ask patients to answer questions online without having to see or speak to a doctor at all – this style allows patients to get care in nearly any environment, even in loud and crowded spaces.
You don’t need to be a tech-geek to use telemedicine. The best companies have taken steps to minimize complexity in their solutions, favoring user-friendly options that people of different ages and skill levels can navigate easily.
And it saves money?
Yup. Telemedicine keeps money in your employees’ pockets and gives you a leg up on competitors who focus only on traditional care. A typical telemedicine visit costs around $45. This is compared to $75 at a convenience clinic, $150 at a doctor’s office, $165 at urgent care and $600 at the emergency room*. Depending on your employees’ insurance, their health plan may even cover the costs. Check with your broker, consultant or account manager for details on your employees’ coverage.
*Cost estimates based on HealthPartners plan data.
Stand out from others
Now more than ever, telemedicine is a valuable way for organizations across industries to save time and money while getting great care. As health becomes a more important strategic asset for employers, encouraging the use of low-cost options like virtual care can give you the competitive edge of a healthier, more productive workforce.
To help your employees choose the care that’s right for them, check out our employer toolkit.
Did you know?
We recently introduced a new tool on virtuwell.com – Know My Cost. We know how important cost transparency is in health care. This tool tells HealthPartners members exactly what their virtuwell visit will cost before they get started. They can simply enter their member number and it’ll calculate the cost based on their specific benefits.