As an employer, you’re about to face the challenges of an unprecedented “Twindemic” of COVID-19 and flu in the coming months, along with other seasonal respiratory illnesses (e.g. bronchitis, pneumonia). While you need to maintain operations and high productivity levels among employees, you also need to keep everyone safe.
In past years it may have been OK for an employee to come to work with minor symptoms; today, the highly infectious nature of COVID-19 has transformed how we view employee sick time.
While you don’t want to risk the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace by allowing potentially infected employees to come to work, you also don’t want to unnecessarily keep healthy ones out of work. And employees face the same challenges – using paid time off, losing out on pay or incurring demerits to take time off from work to see a doctor for a diagnosis, or going to work and possibly risking their own health and that of others around them.
Use of telehealth solutions has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic as patients demand virtual care that is convenient, and employers look for a way to reduce absenteeism and costs while increasing employee satisfaction.
Here are three tips for leveraging telehealth to keep employees safe and productive during these uncertain times.
1. Provide convenient care access
A telehealth platform that offers a “text first” approach lets an employee quickly and conveniently connect with a doctor 24/7 via text instead of video conference or phone call. This means there is no need for the employee to leave the workplace to find a private space that prevents others from overhearing the conversation or having to locate a strong enough wi-fi connection to support a live video session. An employee can text with a doctor during their break to get answers to questions and get on with their day, or in the case of a suspected or diagnosed illness, get treatment.
This service allowed me to text with a doctor, tell them what was wrong, get the prescription filled and in hand within a couple of hours. Not having to pay for a doctor’s visit on top of the speed of getting it resolved was phenomenal!PATIENTLarge Retail Employee using CirrusMD
2. Let doctors make the decisions
When employees have 24/7 virtual access to licensed physicians, employers are shielded from providing medical advice to their employees, which is not their area of expertise nor should it be their role. Instead, an employee can chat with a doctor who uses evidence-based recommendations to make a decision on the right course of action.
With COVID, our human resource team members get calls from employees about whether they should come to work. We’re trying to help, but we’re not qualified to make those health-related decisions.HR DirectorUsing CirrusMD
In this way employees secure reliable medical advice instead of relying on the personal opinion of a layperson within their company, reducing the burden on the employer and placing it where it belongs - in the hands of medical experts.
3. Care for the whole person
COVID-19 can impact employees physically, mentally and financially. The fear and anxiety around whether an individual or a family member will contract the virus can be overwhelming, along with the pressures to maintain employment and sustain an adequate income within a pandemic environment.
I opened up to Dr. Samali like I’ve never opened up to anyone else. She listened, had compassion, and set up a game plan for me. All via video chat and text. I’m damn near in tears because you guys don’t even realize how much weight has been lifted off me because of [this program].PATIENTEmployee using CirrusMD
Offering telehealth as a benefit is an easy, cost-effective way for employers to demonstrate their commitment to their employees during this unprecedented time. Select a telehealth solution that enables employees to access a full range of health resources, including specialty care and behavioral health support, within a single app. An effective telehealth provider can also navigate employees to seek additional care (if needed) within their employer’s existing benefits package.
Becoming More Employee-Centric
This year has presented a broad range of never-before experienced challenges for employers and employees; everyone is doing their best to stay physically, mentally and financially healthy. Employers are increasingly taking a more employee-centric approach to their operations in recognition of their employees’ struggles, offering greater flexibility and support. Because healthcare access is critical during these uncertain times, employers that are offering telehealth are showing their employees their commitment to them as people.
Employers are frequently using the phrase “meeting employees where they are at,” whether it is supporting them on the job by enabling them to chat with a doctor during a break, or at home when medical questions arise outside of work hours. Telehealth brings convenient medical care to the employee anytime/anywhere to provide peace of mind, and for those who are ill, expert advice on treatment.