Published by Trustmark Health Benefits on August 8th, 2019

When was the last time you saw your doctor for an unexpected illness? How long did it take to make the appointment? How long did you sit in the waiting room? How much time did you have to take off from work to get to the doctor’s office? How difficult was it for you to even get out of your house in the first place?
 
Now, imagine that when you are feeling ill you can see a doctor immediately, instead of waiting around for an appointment to open up. Imagine that you don’t have to take off work, or even change out of your comfiest sweatpants, in order to get access to affordable healthcare right when you need it.
 
That’s the world of possibilities telemedicine offers to members, a world in which employers enjoy huge savings as members turn to their smartphones for healthcare instead of urgent care clinics or the emergency room. At Trustmark Health Benefits, we see telemedicine as a vital component of a modern, competitive benefits package, and a highly effective way to improve patient outcomes while keeping costs down.
 
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Early Adopters

We launched our first telemedicine offering in July of 2013 with just two clients. Now we have more than 250 clients who offer a telemedicine benefit through Trustmark. Why has there been such an explosion in the adoption of telemedicine?
 
Three reasons:
  • Cost Concerns
  • Qualified Doctors
  • Access to Healthcare
 

Cost Concerns

Telemedicine costs a fraction of what members and employers would spend on visits to urgent care clinics or emergency rooms. In fact, our clients are currently saving an estimated $495 per telemedicine episode, on average[i].
 

Qualified Doctors

For members, trust in their physicians is of paramount importance, and telemedicine delivers dependable, certified doctors. In a 2017 study by the University of Rochester Medical Center, researchers found that the quality of care delivered via telemedicine was as effective as in-person care[ii]. This study focused on treatment for Parkinson’s Disease, but another landmark study in 2015 in the American Journal of Managed Care found that patients who utilized telemedicine had a lower hospital re-admission rate and scored lower for depression, anxiety, and stress[iii].
 

Access to Healthcare

According to a 2017 study from Merrit Hawkins, the average wait time for a new doctor appointment is 24 days[iv]. Another study from Commonwealth Fund in 2016 found that more than half of US adults have struggled to access non-emergency room healthcare at night and on the weekends[v]. Moreover, members in rural communities are facing a terrible lack of access to doctors, with rural populations having only 13.1 doctors per 10,000 people (opposed to 31.2 doctors per 10,000 people in urban areas[vi]) per the National Rural Health Association. However, 81 percent of Americans own a smartphone[vii], according to the Pew Research Center, which means that healthcare is now more accessible than ever before, with no wait times for new appointments, no problems with office hours, and no geographical limits.
 
Cost concerns, Qualified doctors, Access to healthcare: three reasons why Trustmark is proud to offer telemedicine for our clients, today and in the future. Contact us now to learn more about how telemedicine can help your clients reach their financial goals while providing quality healthcare to their members.
 
[i] Teladoc data, March 2019
[ii] University of Rochester Medical Center. (2017, August 16). “Telemedicine as Effective as In-Person Care for Parkinson’s Disease.” Retrieved from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/5120/telemedicine-as-effective-as-in-person-care-for-parkinsons-disease.aspx
[iii] Pande, R.L. et al. (2015, February 27). American Journal of Managed Care. “Leveraging Remote Behavioral Health Interventions to Improve Medical Outcomes and Reduce Costs.” Retrieved from https://www.ajmc.com/journals/issue/2015/2015-vol21-n2/leveraging-remote-behavioral-health-interventions-to-improve-medical-outcomes-and-reduce-costs
[iv] Merritt Hawkins. (2017, September 22). “2017 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times.” Retrieved from https://www.merritthawkins.com/news-and-insights/thought-leadership/survey/survey-of-physician-appointment-wait-times/
[v] The Commonwealth Fund. (2016, November 16). “In New Survey of 11 Countries, U.S. Adults Still Struggle with Access to and Affordability of Health Care.” Retrieved from https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/journal-article/2016/nov/new-survey-11-countries-us-adults-still-struggle-access-and
[vi] National Rural Health Association. “About Rural Health Care.” Retrieved from https://www.ruralhealthweb.org/about-nrha/about-rural-health-care
[vii] Pew Research Center. (2019, June 12). “Mobile Fact Sheet.” Retrieved from https://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/