Imagine a physician at the office or worksite. Employees getting care for routine needs like sinus infections, bronchitis and colds without leaving work, driving to a doctor’s office, then driving back to work. The saved productivity, the employee health improvement and morale boost. Ahh, it’s a nirvana known only to very large employers.
That thinking is as outdated as renting a videotape to watch a movie. It’s so … 1990s. Driving to a store and milling about, trying to pick a movie to watch? Wait in a line to rent it? Drive home, put a tape in a machine and then drive back to return it? It sounds positively Neanderthal today. We stream, we download, we access what we need when we need it with a few taps on a smartphone or tablet. For small businesses, worksite-based health care delivery can be equally efficient through telehealth technologies.
Telehealth has small to mid-size workplace applications that are being ignored by most employers to their detriment. Making doctors accessible at the worksite is stunningly easy, remarkably inexpensive and a tool even the smallest mom and pop shop can offer.
I spoke with John Jesser, CEO of LiveHealth Online, about how telehealth can be applied in the small-employer setting. He had some eye-opening thoughts.
“Even the smallest employers can offer worksite health services by simply putting a Wi-Fi enabled iPad in a private room, allowing employees to have a face-to-face doctor visit right from the workplace,” Jesser explained. “Beyond that, employers with as few as 300 employees are finding the relatively small investment in a telemedicine kiosk with live access to a doctor to be well worth the cost.”
Telehealth kiosks come equipped with diagnostic tools such as stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, pulse/oxygen sensor and others that allow the doctor to offer a broad array of services. Employers set them up in a private space and allow employees to schedule visits through an online calendar just as they would a meeting room. Larger employers can opt for a more robust option with four walls and a door or even multiple kiosks.
Jesser says employers are amazed at how excited employees are to gain access to kiosks or even a dedicated room with an iPad. Telehealth is one of the fastest growing and most consumer-friendly trends in health care. In fact, a recent survey showed that more than two-thirds of U.S. healthcare patients say telemedicine increased their satisfaction with care.
At the very least, Jesser said, every employer should incorporate telehealth as an option in their health benefits and actively promote it year-round. Almost every worksite has a room somewhere that would allow an employee to find private space for a telehealth visit through their own smartphone, but it starts with helping employees become aware of and comfortable with their telehealth options.
Does all this mean that doctors are going the way of the corner video store? Of course not. We still go to movies—lots of them, in fact. Doctor offices, urgent care clinics and emergency rooms each play a critical role. But just as we don’t waste our time trekking to Blockbuster for rentals anymore, our employees need not waste work time driving offsite for care that can be efficiently delivered at the worksite. Talk to your health plan or insurance broker about options for your organization.