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updated: 6/18/2018 8:43 AM

Hottest new benefit trend "visiting" a virtual doctor

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As the world becomes a busier place where time is a precious commodity, more and more services are delivered by or with the assistance of technology. Noticeably, there has been an increased interest from both employers and employees in telemedicine or telehealth services for nonemergency care.

Telemedicine allows individuals to use online resources to contact medical professionals to order prescriptions, ask questions, receive treatment advice, and schedule appointments. MRA's 2017 Insurance Plans: Health and Prescription Drugs survey revealed how telemedicine is working for employers who offer it as part of their benefits offerings.

Does your health care plan provide for the use of telemedicine?

More than half of the employers surveyed (62 percent) stated their health care plan provides for the use of telemedicine as a valuable option for employees to utilize. Even though telemedicine is still a relatively new service, 15 percent of participants said they "love it" or use telemedicine frequently and just over half of participants (51 percent) said they occasionally use telemedicine. When looking at why some participants did not use telemedicine, the responses showed that some felt telemedicine was "too confusing" (16 percent) or they "prefer to see a doctor in person" (18 percent) to maintain the doctor-patient relationship.

Employers who are committed to offering telemedicine services believe it is a fast way to receive basic medical consultation and helps save money -- for employees and employers -- by reducing costly in-person doctor visits.

As we see more and more personal and household services being offered anytime, anywhere (think grocery delivery, clothes stylists, virtual assistants) it makes sense that doctor visits will be offered with the same level of interest in convenience and flexibility. It's a hot benefit trend that won't be going away any time soon!

• Rachel Campbell is an HR Services and Safety Specialist at MRA -- The Management Association.

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