The Pros and Cons of Telemedicine

The implementation of telemedicine has risen immensely over the last few months, as social distancing requirements were put into place. Telemedicine can be a great way to communicate with your doctor in the safety of your own home. Virtual visits can be used to detect symptoms of COVID-19, fevers, rashes, cold and flu symptoms, aches and pains, minor musculoskeletal injuries, small infections, and UTIs. While telemedicine can be an effective way to treat patients, there are pros and cons to consider.

The pros associated with telemedicine include:

  • Convenience. According to a study, 74% of patients prefer easy access to healthcare services over in-person appointments. Not only does this provide convenience for all patients, but it also helps those who live in remote locations have access to proper patient care. 
  • Cost-effective options. These services reduce healthcare service costs significantly. It helps to attract new patients, reduce no-shows, and reduce overhead for physicians who decide to utilize telemedicine.
  • Patients minimize unnecessary visits. As a patient, it can be a waste of time and money to go to the doctor or ER for minor medical consultations. If your symptoms do not require an in-person visit, opt for a telemedicine appointment instead! 
  • Telemedicine can lead to improved healthcare quality. When it is easier for providers to engage with patients, and remotely track their health with monitoring systems, they can work to identify problems as they develop. 

Now, let’s look at some of the cons linked to telemedicine:

  • Sometimes in-person visits are necessary to diagnose. Physical exams are impossible over the phone, which may be necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of a patient. For example, the COVID-19 test requires a nose and throat swab, to diagnose, so you must go to the doctor physically.
  • Security concerns. With the relaxation of telemedicine requirements due to the global pandemic, security concerns may arise. Cybercriminals can hack into telemedicine systems to steal personal healthcare information. 
  • You may not know the doctor providing your care. Utilizing virtual care services may mean you have a stranger on the other end of the call. These doctors will likely be unfamiliar with you and your medical history, and it may affect the level of care they can provide.
  • Training and equipment can be expensive. Reorganizing IT staff to train and create effective equipment costs both time and money. To ensure ROI from implementing telemedicine, staff, physicians, and medical staff needed to be trained properly. 

Although there are a few things to work out within the telemedicine technology, as you work to implement telemedicine into your benefit programs, the benefits of telemedicine can make a large impact. At SBMA, we believe in the power of telemedicine. That’s why we offer free telemedicine programs in all of our benefit programs. Learn more here.

What to do if your employee has COVID

employee benefits

With companies beginning to return to work, there are a few procedures that employers need to put in place to keep their employees and customers safe. One thing employers need to put thought into is how they will handle what happens when an employee displays symptoms of COVID-19. Furthermore, when an employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, or if employees are exposed to COVID-19 but are not showing symptoms. Here is some guidance on what to do if your employee potentially has COVID-19.

First, what to do if an employee comes to work with COVID-19 symptoms…

According to the CDC, if an employee has symptoms when they arrive to work or become sick when they are at work, they “should immediately be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors, and sent home.” Be sure to communicate the protocol. If they develop symptoms outside of work, they should notify leadership and stay home, away from all employees. 

When an employee does need to stay home due to illness, they should follow the CDC-recommended steps to help prevent the spread of the virus. Once they are sent home from work, employees should remain home for at least ten days. 

Next, consider what to do if an employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19…

In most cases, as a business owner, you do not need to shut down your facility. But work to close off any areas that the person who might have had COVID-19 had been in for an extended period. When you have the opportunity, follow CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations to disinfect your workspace.

Consider how to determine what employees came into contact with the employee who may have COVID-19. Employers should inform their employees that someone they have come into contact with has Coronavirus. Ensure to maintain confidentiality to remain in compliance with ADA regulations. 

What about employees who have been exposed, but are not showing symptoms?

Employees who have been in close contact with someone infected (someone who has been within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period) but are not showing symptoms should remain home, or in an isolated area, and practice social distancing for 14 days. 

The CDC explains critical infrastructure employees can continue to work as long as they remain symptom-free and more precautions are put in place to protect the community. Be sure to advise these employees to wear a cloth face covering at all times during the 14 days following exposure. 

As we all continue to understand the implications of returning to the physical workspace, be sure to keep your employees safe and informed as you move forward. Take proper precautions to ensure your workforce and your surrounding community remains safe. For more information regarding COVID-19 resources, check out our COVID-19 page.

What to do if your employee has COVID

How Have Your Employee Benefits Changed Since the Start of COVID?

How Have Your Employee Benefits Changed Since the Start of COVID?

Before Coronavirus swept the world with high unemployment rates, a strain on healthcare resources, and economic strife, employers were thinking creatively about how to not only retain their existing employees but also attract the best employees with benefits. While some states have been more affected by the health concerns surrounding COVID-19, almost all have felt the effects of the economic downturn. How have your employee benefits changed since the start of COVID? Once you identify the changes, how can you begin to prepare your insurance plan for post-pandemic employee benefits to attract and retain the best employees?

Despite the large unemployment numbers we’ve seen over the last few months, employers should still consider offering employee benefits that align with their employees’ needs. 

Employers had to act fast as stay-at-home orders went into place rather quickly. Therefore, they had to establish work-from-home policies, provide external education opportunities, provide new leave requirements, and anticipate new policies for return to work phases. All of this combined with the fear of potentially contracting COVID-19 can be overwhelming. 

However your employee benefits have changed since the start of COVID, here are a few ways you can look to the future for your employee’s benefits:

  • Get proactive: As an employer, understand the implications of layoffs, furloughs, and other workplace changes. You also need to understand benefits utilization, headcounts, and changes to employment policies. 
  • Rework your employment policies: What does the return to the physical workspace look like? How can you ensure your employees stay safe when they come back? What happens when an employee tests positive for COVID-19? Think creatively about how to run your business effectively outside of your physical space. 
  • Consider your compliance: Have you experienced changes to your workforce? If you are a large employer (with 50 or more full-time employees), and you do not offer benefits to 95% of full-time or full-time equivalent employees you may be opening yourself up to liability. 
  • Include Telemedicine options: Telemedicine use has seen a drastic increase over the last few months. Be sure telemedicine is offered in your employee’s benefit programs. 

As we all continue to understand what the effects of Coronavirus will be, as an employer it’s best to try to get out in front of it. Ensure both your business and your employees stay safe. Contact us to begin crafting your benefit plans today!

Your Guide to Post Pandemic Employee Benefits