- A new telemedicine survey by the Texas Association of Business (TAB) that state employers and healthcare consumers are interested in increased access to remote interactions with their providers.
According to the survey, consumers want immediate access and limited wait time, providers want to use technology to streamline services, and employers want to offer both in their health benefits packages.
“The Texas Association of Business’s study on telemedicine’s use and satisfaction among employees and Texas businesses highlights a growing trend around the country – more and more people want access to quality health care when and where they need it," said Allison Wils, Director of Health and Policy for the ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) in a statement.
The TAB surveyed 600 registered Texas voters regarding their viewpoints on telemedicine and their use of healthcare. Survey results showed that 70 percent of Texans favor the use of telemedicine to diagnose common medical conditions.
Twenty-five percent of Texans said that they have visited the emergency room to treat common conditions, resulting in higher costs and longer wait times.
Despite the promise of telemedicine to deliver faster, less expensive care, 51 percent of those surveyed believe access to health care providers has become more difficult.
According to the survey, 24 percent of rural Texans need to drive 30 minutes or more to get to their doctor's office. And 23 percent of Texans said they have to wait two weeks or more to see their doctor.
TAB survey also included 159 of its member business, the majority which are classified as small. Like consumers, a majority of TAB's member businesses (77%) favored the use of telemedicine to diagnose common conditions.
Like consumers, a majority of TAB member businesses (70%) said that they believed access to health care providers has become increasingly difficult.
While consumers and member businesses favor the uses of telemedicine, only 18 percent of TAB companies surveyed said they offer telemedicine as part of its employee benefits package. The main reasons for offering telemedicine were that it was an innovative benefit and provides cost savings to the company and employees.
All of the companies who offer telemedicine as a benefit plan said they plan to continue offering it, while 24 percent have plans to expand the benefit.
Overall, 66 percent of companies reported positive feedback on employees' experience using telemedicine, while none reported negative experiences.
The support and positive feedback for telemedicine by both the business community and health care consumers shows that may be a need to expand access to this type of health care in benefits packages. By offering telemedicine in a benefits package, consumers are afforded immediate access to care from even remote locations, and also the opportunity to avoid unnecessary ER costs and wait times.
"With employees in every state, including many in Texas, ERIC’s members –the country’s largest employers –want their employees and families to have access to the health care services they need at the earliest opportunity and in a manner that best accommodates their busy lives," Wils said. "Many of our members offer telemedicine options for their employees and have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from those who’ve used it."