Telehealth is not new. In fact, many providers have been trying to get some traction with telehealth for years. It has been used in some situations, such as for a sick kid away at college or an ill family member on vacation. But, the demand for telehealth has remained low—and with it, an understanding of its true value.

That is, until now—until the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the risk of COVID-19 increases with exposure to others, we have all had to rethink how to seek care. So, not surprisingly, in this worldwide crisis, telehealth has quickly emerged as the go-to for non-emergency healthcare visits. We heard from one provider that they’ve experienced a massive increase in telehealth appointments in just a matter of weeks.

Ways to educate employees about telehealth

If your employer plan includes a telehealth or virtual care option like Anthem LiveHealth Online or MDLive, now is a great time to remind employees about it—how to access it, how it can be used, and the cost. (This should be part of your ongoing employee communications during this time—read more about our thoughts on that here.)

There are several ways you can educate employees about the telehealth options available to them:

  • Send out a benefits email encouraging employees to set up an account.
  • Create a short 60-90 second video explaining how to use telehealth.
  • Design a one-page telehealth resource guide with key points about how to use it.
  • Mail a postcard reminding employees about the benefits of telehealth.

In this time of stay-at-home orders, telehealth is a great alternative for primary visits as well as a good first step if you think you may have the COVID-19 virus or another condition that may require in-person care. Providers can diagnose a number of non-acute conditions: cold, cough, sore throat, skin conditions, hypertension, ear problems, rashes, UTIs, and more. Plus, telehealth providers can prescribe or refill medications, adding another level of convenience. Many telehealth platforms also offer counseling and therapy.

Long after the pandemic

While telehealth has been thrust to the forefront of primary care during this time, it’s not likely to go away on the other side of this pandemic. Many of the social and medical practices that are happening in response to COVID-19 will likely remain in place when the crisis eventually subsides—and telehealth will be one of them. With its ease, convenience and 24/7 availability, telehealth is here to stay whether or not we’re in a crisis.