Telehealth benefit takes aim at rising healthcare costs

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As businesses and employees nationwide lay off workers and cut costs amid the coronavirus pandemic, national telehealth provider MeMD is offering short-term access to virtual medical and behavioral healthcare.

Virtual urgent care visits via phone or video are completed in about 30 minutes, while members seeking behavioral health services can connect with a provider in as few as 48 hours, says Bill Goodwin, CEO of MeMD. It also allows employers to provide telehealthcare for their entire employee population — from contractors to full-time employees — including those who do not qualify for traditional medical plans.

“A lot of companies want to help their people through [this situation],” he says. ”We want to give an alternative that is short term and that could make an impact, since some employers can't commit to something six or 12 months from now because of the change in the economy. It allows companies to provide that benefit in a low-cost way so that they can apply that right away.”

The new telehealth offering provides 90-day access to virtual telehealth services. Companies can sign up for short-term contracts to address employees’ immediate health needs. The offering can address things like urgent care, teletherapy, psychiatry or a combination of medical and behavioral health services.

Telehealth can help stem the flow of patients to crowded ERs, mitigate the spread of coronavirus and still ensure that people get the care they need, Goodwin says.

MeMD members who meet the symptom and/or exposure criteria for coronavirus will be treated accordingly and directed to undergo testing as appropriate. As with all MeMD urgent care visits, patients whose symptoms indicate other viral or bacterial illnesses like coughs, colds and flu will receive a comprehensive treatment plan, and e-prescriptions when appropriate.

There is also growing concern about the mental health implications of the pandemic, says Nick Lorenzo, chief medical officer at MeMD.

“The constant spring of information, directives to minimize social contact, feelings of isolation and simply the fear of the unknown are creating stress and anxiety,” he says.

MeMD’s 90-day contracts give employers the opportunity to build in behavioral health benefits to ease the impacts of the virus and its fallout. With health officials predicting the coronavirus containment efforts could extend into the summer, companies can sign up for the short-term offering now through May 31.

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