With 2,300 employees spread across 22 locations in five states, launching new benefits at Pepsi Bottling Ventures isn't an easy task. But the company, which bottles and distributes Pepsi products, achieved what DeeAnne Watson, compensation and benefits manager, calls an "easy win" when it implemented a telehealth service through Teladoc four years ago.

"Our employees are primarily on a production line or driving a truck, delivering products to stores," she explains. "A lot of them have timelines, and when an employee's on a truck, they can't take an hour off to go see a doctor. That causes a lot of them to either go to an emergency room or use an urgent care facility."

About 16% of employees use the service. "We're really starting to see a big return on investment. We're projecting a $200,000 savings this year," says Watson.

In a recent survey, nearly half (48%) of employees who've used the service say they would have missed work had they not accessed Teladoc. PBV doesn't charge employees to use the service, but if a medication is prescribed then employees are responsible for the cost of the prescription.

"I had one employee tell me that although nothing was prescribed for his son, it was 9:30 at night and just to be able to call a doctor and talk about the symptoms - instead of rushing over to the urgent care - was really something he appreciated," says Watson. The service is available to all employees, as long as they are in one of in the company's two health plans.

Employees are connected to a state board certified physician in the state in which they reside, usually within about 16 minutes from the time a request for a consultation is received. And while some large employers go the onsite clinic route in an effort to better control health care costs, "a company like PBV that's scattered across 22 locations really doesn't lend itself to that," says Jason Gorevic, Teladoc's CEO.

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