Big employers turn to telehealth options during COVID-19

Boeing, Chipotle, Circle K and daycare operator KinderCare are turning to a virtual care provider to deliver telehealth options to their collective 500,000 employees.

The companies all have inked deals with telehealth startup 98point6 to provide text-based primary care. Now the companies’ employees will have 24/7 access to board-certified physicians through an app. Company executives say the new benefit is part of an effort to ensure employee health and wellness during a time when workers are staying home and avoiding in-person medical care to stave off coronavirus cases.

“During this sensitive time in the world, we want to ensure that our employees have much easier access to care regarding their health and wellness,” says Kim Barnes, director of benefits at convenience store chain Circle K. “By offering 98point6 to our employees, we are enabling them to safely prioritize their wellbeing at home and at their convenience.”

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“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we quickly recognized that 98point6 services could be expanded and leveraged to allow our team members to immediately access affordable care in a time of social distancing,” says Marissa Andrada, Chipotle’s chief people officer.

Related: 8 benefits employers should zero in on during the COVID-19 pandemic

More employers have been turning to telehealth benefits to identify and treat coronavirus cases and non-coronavirus medical issues. While several companies are promoting and encouraging the options they already offer to employees, others are partnering with providers to expand benefits.

98point6 clinic volume has grown by more than 200% since the beginning of the year, with coronavirus-related concerns accounting for about 40% of all patient visits, the company says. Over the past month, the company has also tripled its physician workforce to meet demand.

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.