Increase Employee Telehealth Utilization through Strategic Communications

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Improving Telehealth Adoption Among Employees

Telehealth services popularity continues to grow among employers, who are interested in building a healthier workforce to help maintain premiums and keep healthcare costs in check. It takes time and resources to implement a successful telemedicine offering, which must include employer analysis of the legal and compliance issues associated with this benefit. Once the specifics are worked out, employers must give equal time and resources to making telehealth services accessible, easy to understand and easy to act upon.

Author’s Note: This is part two of a two-part series on improving telehealth utilization in the workplace. For part one, which dives into the current state and its challenges, click here.

Seven Communication Initiatives for Making Telehealth Work at Your Office

Currently, many employers are reporting that although they offer the benefit, employees aren’t using it. Because telehealth has so much potential, companies need to address any barriers to utilization and educate employees about the existence and process for using telehealth services.

In a February Benefits Magazine article, they suggest employers design a communication campaign on their telehealth benefit with the following key information:

  • How to preregister with the telehealth services provider prior to experiencing an illness.
  • The range of services the telehealth provider can help with such as nutrition, diabetes management, treatment of nonemergency illness such as a sinus infection or sore throat.
  • The qualifications and credentials of the health care providers that will be available to provide telehealth services.
  • The documentation process by the telehealth provider and maintenance of information in accordance with the provider’s policies.
  • The types of technologies available to access care from – for example, phone, text messaging, Internet/video chat or kiosk at employer site.
  • The employee’s financial responsibility for using the service, such as the copayment amount.
  • The organization’s commitment to following all federal requirements under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other laws related to the safeguarding of patient health information (PHI).

Building an Effective Telehealth Communication Strategy

To make this benefit worthwhile to employers and employees, it must be used. A well-executed communications strategy promoting this benefit will help employees’ knowledge about and trust in the benefits that telehealth services offer.

Consistent communication that aims to educate employees about the program’s specifics can also include details relevant to their health coverage. Employees with a health savings account (HSA) will want to know that they can make or receive tax-deductible contributions to their HSA for their telehealth services as long as there was a charge for their visit and it wasn’t for preventive care services. Taking the complexity out of understanding this benefit will further accelerate its adoption among employees. Increased access to care promotes a dedication to workplace wellness and demonstrates the value of employer-sponsored health benefits.

Source:  Benefits Magazine. Telehealth Benefits on the Rise Despite Low Employee Utilization. February 2017. 14-18

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