Telemedicine is receiving a great amount of attention as an effective means to lower employee health care costs, both from having to take time off work and for office visit bills. Employers who are looking for ways to help employees save time and money on health care would do well to look into telemedicine as a valuable employee benefit. At the same time, these employers have an opportunity to lower their own business costs for employee absences and medical costs paid by the employer.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine, according to the American Telemedicine Association, is the use of telecommunications technology for medical, diagnostic, monitoring and therapeutic purposes when distance separates the users. Telemedicine makes use of computer and communications technology to capture and transmit text, audio and video information as a substitute for face-to-face contact between patient and doctor.
Telemedicine options can vary from simply using a validated 24/7 telephone service to get a medical doctor’s advice on things like sore throats or influenza or non-narcotic prescriptions, to a real-time mode, where live video and audio allows the physician, patient, and specialist to communicate interactively. A third option, called the store-and-forward mode, is used when parties are not available at the same time, enabling medical information, including video, to be emailed or placed on a server for the specialist to view.
With real-time consultation, the physician can do an examination with the use of ENT medical peripherals, so that one’s condition can be viewed by both the physician and the specialist. This enables the specialist to diagnose and recommend the proper treatment immediately. This method also provides training for the provider in providing diagnostic, treatment, and follow-up care.
What this does is enable a person to consult a specialist anywhere in the world and not have to travel to the specialist’s office. This type of medicine can offer huge savings to both employer and employee. Reduction of travel time and the stress of battling one’s way through organizational paperwork and red tape are added benefits that cannot be overlooked.
Americans also like to get medical information online, and many medical providers provide access to helpful medical information that people can research online. Patients can often get advice from their own physicians through these portals. Information on specific symptoms may motivate one to obtain treatment sooner.
Telemedicine has been shown to reduce not only the cost of health care, but to provide better care of chronic conditions and fewer or shorter hospital stays. Self-monitoring/testing devices allow physicians to monitor or test patients at their homes or other places. Pro-active self monitoring devices for chronic conditions may achieve better disease management success and allow physicians to detect any developing problems.
Telemedicine provides a cost effective means to give medical care and access to doctors and specialists that can save both the employer and the employee valuable time and money.
 http://www.telemedicine.com/whatis.html Retrieved March 17, 2013