As even casual observers of the industry know by now, telehealth has quickly expanded into almost every area of health care provision, with one significant exception: workers’ compensation. Some are even calling it the “last frontier” for connected care technology. We have seen how telehealth allows people to receive medical attention in the comforts of their own home or other locations that are convenient for them. The same is true for those wishing to use telehealth as a part of their workers’ compensation. As noted in a recent Safety National blog post, “Telemedicine makes it possible for injured employees to reach a qualified clinician from home or the worksite, providing a promising alternative that ensures early treatment.” It can also be a successful way for employers to manage their employees’ health care experiences, which is exactly what the RIMS (The Risk Management Society) 2019 Conference and Exhibition hopes to show.
some states have been quick to adopt telehealth legislation and promote its
use, companies for the most part (despite a gradual growth in the number
offering telehealth benefits to their employees) have not followed so rapidly
in implementing the technologies. Part of the issue revolves around the
differences in laws regarding telehealth use for companies versus individuals.
Billing, reimbursement, and rates are just some of the difference to take into
account when it comes to group health programs and state workers’ compensation.
Furthermore, as the Safety National post explains, “[f]or workers’ compensation
claims, wherever the patient is when they need to see a doctor, that state’s
medical rules will apply, regardless of where the patient lives or where the
accident took place.” The best way to navigate through these differences is to
communicate and develop a plan to facilitate awareness and use. Part of
developing that plan is to decide on an appropriate model. The model chosen
depends the following factors: “use of occupational medical experts/generalists,
phone/video and scope/continuity of care,” technology and equipment needed,
workplace flow, provider experience, and communication.
key thing to remember, of course, is that telehealth is not perfect for all
situations. However, “it can be used for minor injury visits, recheck visits,
telerehab, specialty visits (dermatology, behavioral health) and pathogen
exposure counseling/treatment” effectively. Using telehealth in these
situations eliminates the need for unnecessary travel and reduces costs.
Ultimately, it provides employers, many of whom are increasingly choosing to
offer on-site clinics, with another way to offer health care benefits to their
employees on a situation-by-situation basis.