HRE’s number of the day: Telehealth misconceptions

Here’s how many Americans say they don’t think they have access to telehealth—and what it means for HR leaders.
By: | April 13, 2020 • 2 min read



82: Percentage of Americans who do not think telehealth is currently available to them

A vast majority (82%) of just over 2,000 Americans do not think telehealth options are available to them, according to a survey conducted by Opinium on behalf of G&S Business Communications. The survey also underscored the importance of the benefit: 68% of people would consider using telehealth during the coronavirus pandemic, though only 40% would do so only if their health insurance covered enough of the cost.

What it means to HR leaders

Telemedicine has been a consistent employee benefit offering, but its importance is growing significantly in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The survey findings indicate that HR and benefits leaders have their work cut out for them in communicating the telemedicine benefits they offer. Most companies do offer telehealth options as part of their workplace plans; the most recent numbers from the Society for Human Resource Management, for example, find that 72% of large employers offer telehealth services.

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For those employers that do offer telemedicine, HR leaders need to step up and increase communication about their offerings so employees are aware—especially as experts say the benefit is imperative as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Telemedicine benefits are vital to keeping employees safe from exposure to COVID-19, and especially helpful for those who can work offsite or while in quarantine at home, says Gigi Sorenson, chief clinical officer of GlobalMed, a telehealth provider. “If a doctor feels the employee needs to be tested, they can advise the way to go about it. If their symptoms are critical, they can make arrangements for them to be transported and seen at a higher level, all [while] keeping exposure at a minimum,” she says. “The overarching purpose is that telemedicine can offer both infection containment and treatment without exposing others to an infection.”

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s 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. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.