Tuesday, February 28, 2017
My MD can’t see me for several days!
A comment like this is not unusual when employees are talking at work.
☀︎ So what’s going on? Is the lack of MD availability a big issue?
☀︎ Is there anything an employer can do to help employees?
We know from surveys about 60% of people have reported it is hard to get an appointment to see their MD the same day when they do not feel well. Availability is also an issue here in CT. Adding to this - about one-third of MD offices do not offer appointments outside their regular hours.
Many people today do not have a regular Primary Care MD so when they have an urgent medical situation, they often go to an ER or make an appointment with a specialist. Bottom line this adds to the overall cost of their treatment.
People being people with very busy lives do want to have control of things like being able to get medical care. So there is an option they can take advantage of, which many employees don’t know about and, thus don’t use on an regular basis, and that’s their medical insurance companies telehealth program.
What can they gain from telehealth? The ability to have a conversation on line with a Primary Care MD and generally 24/7. A person using a computer with a camera logs into their medical benefit company web site, sets up an account, types in some basic information about their problem/condition, and are then connected to a MD usually within about 20 minutes.
To answer the earlier question - is there anything employers can do? is Yes, One useful step is to create a one page handout for everyone enrolled in their medical benefit plan. It should be useful to help employees understand and use their telehealth benefit. Some points to emphasize:
☀︎ Yes having an online discussion is a different way to talk about a medical situation and people tend to not like to make changes, which is the big reason many telehealth programs are not well used. However, an incentive is to increase use is to stress it’s a great way for them to maintain control of their busy lives and also to get help/answers about a medical situation when it's needed.
☀︎ Setting up an account on the plan’s web-site before they or someone in the family experiences a medical situation. Doing this early is easier since it eliminates the frustration many people have using a new online program. Frustration could be even higher when they don’t feel well.
☀︎ On-line office visit are more economical than a normal MD office visit for a person experiencing a medical situation. Being more economical helps employees today since many have a HSA based medical benefit plan.
Feel free to call or send a text with any questions.