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Saving with Telehealth: How Patients, Providers, and Employers Can Reduce Expenses

Posted: February 07, 2022

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth services have become increasingly popular. Through these virtual visits, patients can continue to access quality health care without putting themselves at risk for exposure with an in-person visit. But in addition to the safety and convenience of telehealth, there are financial benefits for patients, providers, and employers providing healthcare coverage.

Patients Save on Travel and High Copays

Many patients, especially those in rural areas, may need to travel 50 miles or more for routine primary care. This distance can be even greater for specialty care. Telehealth services eliminate the need for travel and save the patient the costs associated with accessing their medical care. Patients who are able to keep up with routine and preventative care have lower health care costs over time.

Telehealth may also save patients money on copays and steep medical bills. Recent data shows that access to telehealth may reduce the need for visits to emergency rooms and urgent care facilities. These facilities have a much higher copay than a visit to a primary care provider and can leave the patient with hundreds or thousands of dollars in medical bills.

On average, a single trip to the emergency room costs a patient $2,200. For non-urgent situations, telehealth providers can evaluate a patient’s issue and provide recommendations for further treatment or write prescriptions to a pharmacy near the patient.

Providers Save on Commuting and Staffing Costs

A telehealth program can create savings for providers, both on commute time and staffing costs. Large hospital systems may have providers who travel between different locations or even cities to treat patients. Implementing a telehealth program could mean reduced travel for providers, saving personal commuting costs for them, and reducing staffing costs for their employers.

Additionally, the automation offered through telehealth can increase efficiency in the administrative operations of a medical practice and can increase the productivity of conducting in-person visits. A 2019 study by the National Health Services in the United Kingdom estimates that telehealth and automation could reduce staff costs in healthcare by $17.1 billion.

Employers See Lower Premiums

Employers who provide health care coverage for their employees can see a benefit to their bottom line because of telehealth. Healthcare premiums are on the rise and as of 2020, they have increased roughly 55% over the previous ten years. Under most health insurance plans, telehealth services are far less expensive than an in-person visit.

Since renewal premiums are calculated by taking the previous year’s utilization into consideration, telehealth could contribute to a significant decrease in employer-paid premiums.

In a similar fashion, telehealth can save employers on employee premiums over time as employees use telehealth to be more compliant with routine and preventative care, as well as management of chronic illness.

Telehealth services can be easy to implement and can save ample time and money. Contact us today to learn how Let’s Talk Interactive can make telehealth work for your practice or facility.