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The rise of telehealth and telemedicine: What HR needs to know
By Kathryn Moody
From HR Dive on Thursday, January 14, 2016
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At the 2015 Benefits Forum and Expo in October, quite a few of the sessions were dedicated to telemedicine and how employers could incorporate it into their health plans. Only in the past 18 months, telehealth implementation by employers has increased by double digit percentages. Toward the end of 2014, 48% of employers offered some sort of telehealth option, according to the National Business Group on Health. In 2016, 74% of employers will offer telehealth options.

Well, it's starting to catch up. Telehealth is better integrated with employer healthcare benefit plans now, making it quite easy to implement at an employee level, Karen Marlo, vice president of the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), told HR Dive.

Generally employees seem to enjoy the telehealth programs once they use them — though engagement, like with other HR initiatives, is a common problem, Marlo said. Additionally, it can be hard to see what the benchmark needs to be for employee engagement with telehealth, since employees shouldn't completely replace in-person physician visits for everything. Some employers may have fears about employees getting the accurate, quality care they need — but many see it as an excellent alternative to going to the ER (for non-emergencies, of course) or doing nothing at all.

"I think the major thing is that they want their employees to have a good experience and get quality care," Marlo said. "It is another alternative way for employees to have access to care."