Survey: 48 percent of employers plan to offer telehealth services by 2015

By Aditi Pai
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NBGH surveyForty eight percent of employers will make telehealth services available to employees, in states where it's legal, in 2015, according to a National Business Group on Health survey of 136 employers representing approximately 7.5 million employees.

Within this group, 33 percent of employers plan to offer these services without incentives or penalties and 15 percent plan to offer the services with incentives and penalties.

Additionally, in 2015, 84 percent of employers surveyed said they plan to offer disease management tools, but the survey didn't explain what kinds of tools would be offered. Another 71 percent said they want to offer price transparency tools and 71 percent said they plan to offer decision support tools.

Last month, another survey, this one from Towers Watson, found employer use of telemedicine would rise 68 percent by 2015. The survey of employers at companies with 1,000 employees or more found that 22 percent currently offer telemedicine consultations as a cost-saving alternative to emergency room or primary care visits.

Towers Watson also found that an additional 37 percent planned to offer those services by 2015. And by 2016 or 2017, another 34 percent of employers said they were considering telemedicine.

“While this analysis highlights a maximum potential savings, even a significantly lower level of use could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in savings,” Dr. Allan Khoury, a senior consultant at Towers Watson, said at the time. “Achieving these savings requires a shift in patient and physician mindsets, health plan willingness to integrate and reimburse such services, and regulatory support in all states.”