Telemedicine customized for occupational injuries will provide the greatest advantage
“You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.” - Steve Jobs
Telemedicine, primarily audio technology, has been available to group health providers for care for minor illnesses, follow-up care and e-prescribing for a long time. Many workers’ compensation claims administrators and managed care organizations also provide audio telehealth services in areas such as 24/7 nurse triage and prescription drug reviews.
Now video telemedicine services are evolving for group health and they are at the genesis of production in workers’ compensation. Claims administrators and managed care organizations must thoughtfully connect specific crucial areas in order to successfully deliver quality occupational care via mobile technology and video.
We have seen for years that getting injured employees to the occupational injury care providers proven to achieve the best outcomes in workers’ compensation significantly lowers cost, time away from work and rates of litigation. High-quality healthcare is a MUST for telemedicine.
In order for telemedicine to be successful in workers’ compensation, employers need to be sure their claims administrators and managed care providers are fully prepared to deliver:
- Technology and logistics: Through the right platform, we can ensure easy access, short wait times, provider availability and correct/efficient billing.
- Experience and results: One of the keys to improved health and return to work in the workers’ compensation space is having access to the best-performing occupational medicine providers available around the clock. This remains true whether seeing a doctor in person or via telemedicine.
- Network connectivity: We must ensure that the networks entering into this new approach are organized and trained to meet the needs of occupational injury providers, the employer and injured workers.
- Fully transparent pricing/fees: Telemedicine is simply a form of healthcare enabled by technology, so the cost of services should be fully transparent.
- Regulatory compliance: The services should be fully compliant with applicable regulatory requirements, including state reporting, compliance with telemedicine jurisdictional laws and billing for services.
By connecting these critical areas, the claims and medical cost containment services administrator will eliminate travel time, reduce lost productivity and cost associated with occupational injury care, while creating a new model with ease of access to high-quality care. Telemedicine customized for occupational health can offer a convenient avenue to provide initial and follow up occupational medicine and specialist care for injured workers which will promote higher patient satisfaction and reduce cost.
According to an article from Harvard Medical School, the average total visit time for a person seeking care for themselves, a child or another adult was 121 minutes, including 37 minutes of travel time and 84 minutes in the clinic. Yet, only 20 minutes was spent with a physician. The opportunity for great improvement is here.
We see an excellent future for telemedicine to save time and cost and to improve access to specialty care in workers’ compensation. With the logistics to deliver great service, regulatory compliance and connection to the highest-quality providers, the opportunities in this area are phenomenal. But be sure to do your homework and find the right option to make it a win!
Dr. Teresa Bartlett, SVP, Medical Quality