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In a time of uncertainty, many businesses are reconsidering their healthcare coverage and employee benefits. Of the many considerations that have been debated, the use of telemedicine seems to be one of the most prevalent amid COVID-19.

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve, telehealth services have played a huge role in healthcare, serving to support patient care while keeping the number of in-person appointments at bay. Aside from this, telemedicine has also offered a number of benefits for small businesses everywhere. Keep reading to learn more about the value these services can offer to your business and employees!

What is Telemedicine?

To understand how the use of telemedicine could benefit your small business, you must first understand what exactly this service is and what it offers. Put simply, telemedicine, also known as telehealth, are services and technologies that are used to connect patients with medical professionals to address their basic healthcare needs without having to meet in-person. In other words, whether a patient is looking to address certain medical concerns, receive a prescription refill, or meet for an annual follow-up visit, they can opt to use telemedicine as a means to consult and communicate directly with a healthcare provider online.

Although telemedicine has been around for a while now, the popularity in using these technologies and services has become more popular as the coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has taken steps to make it easier to provide telehealth services to people everywhere and remains persistent in encouraging healthcare providers to adopt this type of platform into their specialty. The idea in using this is to not only provide medical assistance for patients with non-COVID-19 emergencies, but to also help to keep in-person visits low and diagnosed COVID-19 patients contained.

Types of Telemedicine Subspecialties

Not all telemedicine services and technologies are exactly the same. Some platforms may only be accessible to certain parts of the world, whereas others may reach a variety of different regions/and or countries. Along with that, some telehealth platforms may be designed specifically for certain healthcare fields, unlike other platforms that encompass a multitude of healthcare specialties. Below is a list of a few common types of telemedicine subspecialties to consider for your small business:

1. Veterans (VA) Telehealth

To make sure veterans receive accessible, quality healthcare when they need it, the U.S. Veterans Department of Affairs is leading the way in telehealth with their unique technologies and services. The transformative telemedicine innovation for veterans makes it simple for them to attain high-quality VA care from either their home, clinic or in the hospital.

Regardless of where a veteran visits— whether that be a community-based outpatient clinic (CBOC) or larger VA Medical Center— this platform can be of assistance at any time, anywhere. Their available online VA facility health coordinators can assist veterans and other VA care teams to ensure VA patients have all the tools and information they need to have the best online telehealth experience and receive the help they need when they need it.

2. Teledermatology

As one of the most active applications rendered in the U.S., teledermatology typically follows a store-and-forward communication approach to telemedicine, meaning patients send and forward digital images and videos, along with other relevant data for storage and consultation as provided by an online skincare expert. However, some teledermatology providers follow full-motion video when it comes to their technologies and services, referring to the process in which patients and providers interact via live video conferencing.

Even if dermatologists and estheticians have an in-house facility, many of them have adopted telehealth technologies into their practice to better communicate with their patients during COVID-19. Still, online consultations and prescriptions can also be provided from other telehealth providers who are only accessible through their platform.

For example, Hers, a telemedicine company tailored to women, offers a variety of healthcare services for both new and returning patients that include online consultations with certified health experts as well as specialized skincare treatments like their trusted acne products. Thus, making it a great alternative for people who may be struggling to address their unique skincare needs in this unprecedented period.

3. Teledentistry

According to American Teledentistry, this type of subspeciality refers “to the use of electronic information, imaging and communication technologies, to provide and support dental care delivery, diagnosis, consultation, treatment, transfer of dental information and education.”

Teledentistry is said to have improved the dental hygiene of patients and be more affordable compared to in-office dentistry, making it a valuable resource for many individuals who may not be able to afford or access dental care during this time. From virtual consultations, high-tech patient monitoring, teledentistry takes an innovative, integrated, and convenient care approach to this particular healthcare field.

For more information on different other types of telemedicine subspecialties, check out this link!

How Telemedicine Can Benefit Small Businesses

No matter what type of small business you own or what type of telemedicine subspeciality you use, everyone can benefit from telehealth. Although some platforms may offer more value than others, generally speaking, most small businesses will still reap these three benefits in using these technologies and services:

1. Improves Patient Care

A 2015 study found that patients who have used telemedicine to access healthcare have lower rates of depression, anxiety, and stress in comparison to those who do not. Additionally, those same patients who use telemedicine also had 38% fewer hospital admissions compared to those who do not. But why is this?

The reasoning for this likely relates to the fact that telehealth services tend to be more patient-focused unlike in-person visits at healthcare facilities. Virtual doctor’s appointments also make it almost effortless for patients to speak with a medical professional in real-time about their health concerns. In turn, they are able to attain high-quality care and find treatment options more quickly.

2. Convenience

Thanks to telemedicine, receiving proper care from a healthcare provider no longer requires patients to fill out endless amounts of paperwork and forms. Instead, with a click of a button, patients can get in touch with a physician within minutes of using a telehealth platform, making it more convenient for both parties.

The convenience of it all serves to support patient care and their commitment to their individual healthcare goals. This means that they’re more likely to reach out to doctors quicker with any additional questions or concerns they may have related to their well-being, which increases patient engagement and reduces overall healthcare costs.

Plus, scientific evidence shows that healthy employees have better work productivity, so beyond being cost-effective, the convenience in using telemedicine can be beneficial for small businesses as their employees become more encouraged to maintain care schedules and upcoming appointments.

3. Reduces Office Copays

Because telemedicine doesn’t require a formal, expensive setting to receive patient care, the technologies and services can decrease healthcare costs by up to 27% for those who pay medical care, reports Ally Health.

With no facility charges, expensive office visits, or emergency room specialist charges, incorporating the use of telemedicine in the portfolio package of a small business can help to reduce office co-pay for employees and claim costs to the employer’s group healthcare plan.