The Coronavirus pandemic has led to a massive boom in Telehealth. And it is not going away anytime soon. As it turns out, virtual health care is convenient and both time and cost-effective, especially for employers.
According to the Lively 2019 Wellness and Wealth report, 69% of businesses with 50 or more employees offered telemedical benefits in 2019. During this time before COVID, about 11% of consumers were using Telehealth.
All of this changed when COVID hit. By the end of March 2020, telehealth visits increased by 154% compared to the year prior. These number declined a bit during the following months, but demand for telemedicine services have remained much higher than before the pandemic.
The result of the increase in Telehealth has critical implications for employers. Telemedicine attracts patients seeking care for acute, low-intensity, and many times self-limited issues. In interviews of benefits executives conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), several participants noted that telemedicine could lower their firm’s total health care costs.
Virtual visits often have a lower co-pay than in-person appointments, which means telemedicine saves both time and money. Telemedicine patients are usually older and female, according to EBRI research. Most telemedicine users had an average of less than three virtual doctor visits, showing that people often use telemedicine for acute needs or chronic conditions. The research also indicates that patients preferred to use telemedicine for respiratory or mental health issues.
It might seem easy to brush off telemedicine as an emergency measure that will end when the pandemic does. But new research shows that it is predicted that the telehealth market is expected to reach $185 billion by 2026.
Telemedicine is simple, easy, time-saving, and cost practical, meaning it is here to stay and will grow in popularity with patients and providers.