Previous analysis of how viable telemedicine could become has focused on providing access for residents of underserved rural areas and cutting down on lost productivity time for employees. Now, with state legislatures around the country approving laws that demand parity for telemedicine, employers and payers are looking more closely at the economics of offering coverage for remote physician encounters. IHS Technology projects that annual spending on telehealth will rise to $2.2 billion in 2018, up from $240 million in 2014. However, the payout for that spending will be considerable: A study by Towers Watson, looking at companies with ≥1,000 employees, estimated savings of up to $6 billion per year if workers routinely engaged in remote consults for appropriate health concerns. These data could be new incentive for urgent care operators who provide occupational medicine to use telehealth to strengthen relationships with customers—or forge new ones with companies interested in lowering costs.
Cost Benefit Becoming Key for Employers Eying Telemedicine