Telehealth, or telemedicine, gained traction during the pandemic, but it was around long before that. In fact, the history of telehealth goes back so far that many reading this were probably not alive when it started!
The history goes as far as the 1800s, when the invention of the telegraph allowed for medical supplies to be ordered and delivered during the Civil War, as well as allowing for long-distance medical consultations. One of the earliest and probably most famous uses of telehealth was in the late 1950s and early 1960s when a closed-circuit TV link was established between the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute and Norfolk State Hospital for psychiatric consultations.
Going from one normal to another
Telehealth has always been an option, but people seemed content to push it to the background and go on with business as usual for a long time. In-person care was the norm, and telehealth had a barrier to accessibility (especially to those in rural areas with poor internet access). It wasn't until the start of the pandemic that telehealth received the push it needed to become a more accepted form of care, as 52.7 million people used telehealth in 2020. It allowed people to receive care from the comfort of their homes, avoid the long waits in doctor's offices and urgent care, and keep to the pandemic practices of social distancing.
Telehealth use declined in 2021, with only 37% of adults using it that year, but it reached a plateau in 2022, with use currently being steady and holding. This shows that in 2023, this care will be here to stay and that your business can capitalize on the wide range of services available, especially since most insurance providers offer some form of telehealth coverage.
So what ways can your business capitalize on telehealth and convince employees to use it?
Addressing sensitive healthcare issues
Both men’s and women's healthcare is often overlooked by businesses—but they are essential to employees. Issues facing workers today, from sexual health and hormonal issues to hair loss and skin conditions, can be embarrassing to deal with in the more public setting of a doctor's office. Some conversations are more comfortable in private, and letting employees make use of telehealth services can encourage them to address these issues confidently and in the privacy of their own homes.
Using virtual primary care for regular checkups
Many conditions can be managed with telehealth services, including:
- Cancer care
- High blood pressure
- Long covid symptoms
- Mental health conditions
- Prenatal and post-partum care
- Respiratory diseases
Staying current with routine visits and wellness exams is important in avoiding expensive urgent care and ER visits. Also, increasing access to primary care decreases the risk of major illnesses and conditions developing later. By making it easier to access this care, employers reduce potential health risks and financial risks.
Telehealth cannot help with every illness, and employees may still have to occasionally visit urgent care or the ER, but more than 90% of all health issues can be treated with primary care. With telehealth giving easy access to that kind of care, employees can make appointments at their convenience, which saves them time, while prioritizing their health.
Encouraging the use of telebehavioral health services
Telebehavioral health commonly refers to virtual talk therapy or telepsychiatry, allowing people to meet with a therapist or psychiatrist from the comfort of home. The American Psychological Association says that teletherapy is just as effective—if not more effective—than traditional in-office therapy.
With 75% of workers experiencing burnout in 2022, and anxiety and depression accounting for 200 million lost workdays every year, encouraging employees to use teletherapy or telepsychiatry services can lead to a happy and less-stressed workforce.
Monitoring of chronic conditions
Chronic conditions, such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, heart disease, or multiple sclerosis, require ongoing attention and can limit daily activities. But doctors can remotely monitor these conditions through virtual means, phone calls, and remote monitoring devices.
Telehealth lets employees be on top of their health without the burden of taking time off work and figuring out transportation for doctor's visits.
Telehealth is here to stay
Telehealth is not just the latest fad or trend. People use it for the convenience it provides and for the time it saves. If your business offers telehealth through health insurance or as a stand-alone service, let employees know about it so they can fit necessary doctor's appointments into their day and contribute to their overall health and wellbeing. Greater access to healthcare reduces health and financial risk and increases wellness over time.
Content provided by Q4intelligence
Photo by ryanking999