New Lines: Changing the Telemedicine Conversation

Why are we still talking about telemedicine the same way we have for the last five or so years?

Here are six ways to move the conversation from just the basics to building an effective, successful program:

1) Remove the visit fee. Groups with greater than 10% average utilization had a median copay of $15, compared to the less than 6% average utilization of groups with a $30 median copay, according to Mercer. 

If their telemedicine visit doesn’t cost anything, employees are more likely to give it a chance and keep using it. And if they really like it, they’ll spread the word.

2) Make it relatable. Even though telemedicine could be the perfect solution a lot of employees need, they might not understand exactly when to use it, how it saves them money and why it’s applicable to their lives.

Make the service relatable and relevant by sharing a personal story of how you used telemedicine to cure your cold while you were on vacation or get a prescription for your kid’s nausea in the middle of the night.

3) Separate it from the health plan. When you separate telemedicine from the health plan, it puts the service in the spotlight, rather than letting it get lost under the insurance details. You’re also able to redirect claims and reduce out-of-pocket spending. 

4) Simplify access. If you’re asking employees to change their health care behavior, you need to make it as easy as possible. Provide access to information such as instructions, phone numbers and log-in details with the rest of your benefits communications so employees know where to find it when they need it. 

5) Engage employees. Increase participation by promoting telemedicine at benefit fairs, via webinars, through traditional communication and promotional pieces, and tying it to wellness incentives. 

Ask employers how they typically communicate any type of announcement to their employees, from insurance info to details about the holiday party. Is it a flyer on the back of bathroom stalls? A mailed postcard? Email? If it’s already effective, don’t reinvent the wheel. These same channels should be used to regularly send out communications about the usefulness of telemedicine. 

6) Expand the program. Mental health is an especially crucial issue right now, costing employers billions in health care expenses and lost productivity. Easy access to treatment removes the stigma of therapy and encourages use, making a positive impact on health outcomes.

As vice president of sales at New Benefits, Jake Cleer tailors non-insured benefit programs to a number of the top 50 brokerage and consulting firms around the country.