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How Telemedicine Can Help Employers During Flu Season

by Tim AustinFebruary 20, 2018 8:00 AM

Flu season is normally bad for businesses, but 2018 may be much worse than usual. The New York Times reports that “this year’s flu season is now more intense than any since the 2009 swine flu pandemic and still getting worse,” which creates havoc both for you and your workers.

You can’t always prevent the flu or stop employees from getting sick, but you can offer them the means to receive quick, affordable attention from a medical professional. Telemedicine is an attractive benefit that gives employees 24/7 access to physicians via phone, video, or internet chat and benefits your business. Here’s why you should consider offering telemedicine to your employees this flu season.

Image of an employee who used telemedicine to contact a doctor about the flu.

Telemedicine Saves You and Your Employees Money

The flu can cost businesses money in a few different ways. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that direct costs for hospitalization and outpatient visits for adults in the U.S. amount to roughly $10.4 billion each year. For business owners who offer health insurance to their employees, these costs are comprised of copays and higher premiums. However, a telemedicine conference with a physician is free for eligible employees. By limiting the number of in-person visits with telemedicine, you can lessen the impact of these costs on your business.

Higher premiums and numerous copays aren’t the only way the flu and other illnesses can cost your business. Fortune Magazine reports that lost productivity caused by the flu could be as high $21 billion for businesses across America. Lost work days and hours can be a result of sick time, doctor’s visits, and having to stay home with sick children. Telemedicine can eliminate some of this lost productivity by giving workers 24/7 access to a physician, helping them get medical attention faster.

Telemedicine Makes It Easier for Your Workers to Get Medical Attention

If an employee is sick, it’s better for them to get healthy rather than to come to work and spread illnesses to their coworkers. However, there are a few potential issues with seeing a doctor in person, such as finding the time for an appointment. First you must set up an actual appointment with a doctor, which typically occurs during normal work hours. When flu season is in full swing, that means your employee will have to compete for available times with anyone else who feels under the weather.

Another problem is that your employees will be around other people who are sick when they get there. If they’re not dealing with the flu already, sitting around with people who have runny noses and ongoing coughing fits is one way to help them get it.

Telemedicine takes a lot of the hassle out of visiting the doctor. With it, your employee can contact a doctor who may be able to diagnose their condition remotely and prescribe any necessary medication. Telemedicine also isn’t tied to normal work hours; professional physicians are available at any hour on any day, so your employee doesn’t have to wait until Monday morning to receive help when the flu rears its ugly head on Sunday.

Invest in Telemedicine This Flu Season

It pays to keep your employees healthy. Adding Telemedicine to your business’ health benefits is one way that you can help your workers stay healthy while saving on costly copays and lost work hours. Contact GMS today to talk to one of our experts about adding telemedicine to your health plan or about any of our other employee benefit administration services.

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