Telemedicine could save more than $6 billion a year in healthcare costs, according to an analysis by Arlington-based analytics firm, Towers Watson.
The firm surveyed U.S. employers with at least 1,000 employees and found that many expect to offer telemedicine in 2015. Overall, Towers Watson expects a 68 percent overall increase in telemedicine offerings next year with 37 percent of respondents saying they will likely offer their employees telemedicine consultations as a an alternative to emergency room or physician office visits for nonemergency health issues. Only 22 percent offer such services and usage is low among those who offer it with vendors claiming per-member utilization of less than 10 percent.
“While this analysis highlights a maximum potential savings, even a significantly lower level of use could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in savings,” Allan Khoury, M.D., a senior consultant at Towers Watson, said in a statement. “Achieving this savings requires a shift in patient and physician mindsets, health plan willingness to integrate and reimburse such services, and regulatory support in all states.”