Employers to offer more telemedicine options in 2015; reap benefit of potential savings

According to the results of a survey published today by global analytics company Towers Watson, more U.S. companies plan to increase the use of telemedicine to lower healthcare spending costs in 2015. Telemedicine has the potential to deliver more than $6 billion in healthcare savings per year to U.S. companies, according to the report.

Of the 1,000 U.S. employers that were surveyed, 37 percent said they plan to offer their employees telemedicine consultations as a lower costing alternative to traditional healthcare expenditures such as emergency room and urgent care center visits for medical problems. Overall, the percentage of employers offering telemedicine is expected to rise from 22 percent in 2014 to 37 percent in 2015, a 68 percent increase. An additional 34 percent of U.S. employers are considering offering telemedicine for 2016 or 2017.

Utilizing telemedicine would require employees and their dependents to use technology-enabled interactions over traditional face-to-face visits with healthcare providers, potentially delivering more than $6 billion in healthcare savings per year to U.S. companies.

“While this analysis highlights a maximum potential savings, even a significantly lower level of use could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in savings. Achieving this savings requires a shift in patient and physician mindsets, health plan willingness to integrate and reimburse such services and regulatory support in all states,” said Allan Khoury, MD, a senior consultant at Towers Watson, in a statement.