What is Telemedicine?
As smartphone technology and technology in general has grown, it’s provided opportunities for humans to interact and engage without ever being in the same room, building, country, or even continent. A similar notion can be said of telemedicine. According to Healthcare Weekly , telemedicine is recognized as “simply the distribution of healthcare via video and audio channels, rather than the usual face-to-face interactions we usually expect from the healthcare system”. It means that a patient can be seen, diagnosed, and even treated via digital doctors’ appointments over the phone or through video chatting.
And before we get too deep, no, telemedicine is not simply the use of websites or symptom checkers for diagnosis. Although a significant number of Americans use the internet to collect information on their own health or to research their own symptoms, it’s hard to control where they get that information. While there are sites that allow individuals to input their symptoms and concerns only to have a diagnosis computed by an algorithmic website, there’s a crucial component missing- the input of a living, breathing, educated doctor. Even this has started to shift though, as many of these sites are now starting to use artificial intelligence in the form of chat bots, in an effective and efficient way, whereby the patient inputs and answers questions, that are then passed on to the actual doctor. The research simply supports the growing need for and use of virtual or digital medical services.
As a growing means of medical planning and the provision of benefits, it’s time for real estate businesses to begin encouraging their employees to utilize telemedicine to keep their own health in check. Not only does this help the employee, but it also benefits the business. Let’s check out five clear reasons for promoting the use of telemedicine among real estate businesses and their employees.
1. Limited wait times and no loss of work hours: For many employees at traditional Monday-Friday jobs, getting in a doctor’s appointment can be a challenge. Many doctor’s offices are available during the same traditional hours of employment, which means in order for many employees to get in a doctor’s visit, they’ll need to take time off of work. It also might mean they can spend significant amounts of time in a waiting room while they wait to be seen. Providing telemedicine services to those employees means real estate businesses won’t lose their employees for hours or full days, simply for the purpose of getting in an appointment.
2. Keeping up with employee health, safety, and wellness trends: In a more health-conscious era, Americans are more focused than ever on their own health and wellbeing, and taking far more active steps in order to sustain healthier lifestyles, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. Companies spend money and time working with outside professionals to implement emotional wellbeing and physical health programs within the workplace. If they’re going to be spending money and devoting time to the successful implementation of such programs, it’s important to also demonstrate commitment to providing these services, through readily accessible support via telemedicine.
3. Telemedicine answers the call for struggling real estate businesses: real estate businesses make up the vast majority of American businesses, and many of these real estate businesses often struggle to provide access to medical professionals within their employee benefits packages. Telemedicine can allow those real estate businesses in small towns, who have no doctor of their own, or lack specialized professionals and require employees to travel outside of the city to find care, to fulfill the needs of their people. Rather than say, a three-hour drive to a major city for a specialized practitioner, an employee might be able to find one-on-one diagnosis and treatment via telemedicine.
4. Decreased costs to the businesses regarding medical expenses for illnesses: When a patient can receive a diagnosis for one of the more common illnesses, like colds and flus, they can be quickly diagnosed rather than waiting to get better and needing to take a visit to the doctor and miss work. Missed work days and ER visits by employees can cost real estate businesses money . The earlier a diagnosis occurs, the fewer needed sick days or further visits to the doctor or ER become necessary, ultimately saving money.
5. They’re using technology anyway, so it might as well come from provided telemedicine: When we look at any niche industry, 77% of those consumers (ideally, potential patients) admit to the use of the internet for finding their own medical information . It cannot be denied that the relevance of the internet when it comes to diagnosis, so if they’re already using it, then one might as well provide access to actual care, rather than the simple information and research provided through sites like WebMD.
When it comes to real estate businesses, finding the right balance between what best suits them and what best suits their employees can often be a challenge. Telemedicine is only one of the simpler solutions that helps meet the needs of employees, while also satisfying the needs of small business.