Is This Your Situation: Considering Telehealth to Improve Mental Health

Is This Your Situation: Considering Telehealth to Improve Mental Health

Telehealth has been around for decades. In the past couple of years, however, the practice has gained immense steam. In fact, telehealth is now a core aspect of many employers’ group health plans for several reasons:

  • Telehealth can reduce health care costs, i.e., it can be much less expensive than in-person care. In 2017, Health Affairs reported that, on average, a telehealth visit cost $79, compared to an average of $146 for a physician’s office visit and $1,734 for an emergency department visit.
  • Telehealth is convenient and safe. With telehealth, employees do not have to spend time or money traveling to a doctor’s office, as the meetings are held remotely. Also, telehealth patients do not have to sit in crowded waiting rooms, thereby lowering the threat of exposure to infectious diseases.
  • Telehealth helps improve employee productivity. Telehealth makes it easier for employees to access health care and encourages them to seek treatment faster, potentially resulting in fewer days missed at work.
  • Telehealth can give you a competitive advantage. Many studies show that job seekers and employees rank health insurance as the most desirable workplace benefit. From recruiting and retention standpoints, this makes group health insurance a must for employers looking to edge out their competition.

Improving mental health

How important is mental health? Consider the following:

  • A 2019 release from Unum said that mental health accounted for 62% of missed workdays.
  • Medical costs for individuals with mental illness are two to three times higher.
  • Nearly half of adults aged 25-49 have reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder during the pandemic.

Telehealth can address these in an efficient and cost-effective manner while meeting employee expectations:

  • Virtual behavioral health visits deliver care four times faster than in-person visits.
  • 75% of patients say they expect virtual care to be a standard part of their care going forward.
  • Even as the worst of the pandemic is hopefully behind us, demand for telehealth has nearly doubled.

The bottom line? Telehealth is going to have a permanent place in the U.S. health care system, and it will be a key component of increasingly important mental health services.

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