April 13, 2017

Making Telehealth Engagement a Reality

#### By Stephany Verstraete, Teladoc Chief Marketing Officer Would you be surprised by the fact that [9 in 10 people don’t fully understand their healthcare benefits](http://www.benefitspro.com/2016/09/30/survey-most-workers-dont-understand-health-insuran?kw=Survey:%20Most%20workers%20don%27t%20understand%20health%20insurance&cn=20161003&pt=Daily&src=EMC-Email\_editorial&et=editorial&bu=BenefitsPRO)? When we look specifically at telehealth benefits, our data tell us that 17% of female dependents are aware of what is included in their package. That’s promising, and better than the one in 10 overall, but counter to the 1-2% utilization cited as average for the telehealth industry. With these stats in mind, it’s not surprising that, according to the National Business Group on Health, [employee engagement](https://www.businessgrouphealth.org/topics/engagement/) is the second biggest challenge facing benefit leaders today. But there is promising news. These stats stand in stark contrast to the more than 10% membership utilization rates that Teladoc’s engaged employer partners experience, and see growing year after year. Why? It is in great part due to the level of engagement. With no doubt, telehealth has relevance to many. It spans generations, industries and job types. The business traveler caught out of town with the flu, an only child who lives hundreds of miles away from an aging parent, the new mother dealing with post-partum depression. We can all relate to ever-broadening care needs that telehealth is equipped to address. So why can it be so hard to get people to use their benefit? There are two seemingly simple barriers: lack of awareness, and the well-worn neuro pathways that have ingrained a default reaction of “I have to go to the doctor.” At Teladoc, we are on a mission to retrain those pathways, conditioning people to solve for “what is the best way for me to get care?” And it starts with engaging our members. I have spent a career changing ingrained behaviors across a number of different industries, from changing how people use technology to improve how they meet their spouse to changing how people plan and book their travel. Invariably behavior change comes down to two factors: people have to try the new behavior once, and it has to solve their issue. At Teladoc, we see an average 92% resolution rate, and members who use our telemedicine services once are more likely to continue to use them. So it’s not surprising, in today’s age of social sharing, one quarter of women are willing to recommend it to their friends and coworkers. These are the behaviors our engagement system is engineered to drive. The results are repeatable, and fuel engagement that builds year over year. Engagement with your telehealth benefit should be more than a reality; it should be an expectation. That is why we launched the [Teladoc Utilization Guarantee](https://www.teladoc.com/businesses/utilizationguarantee/) this year. We work with our clients to ensure employees are present, productive and taking advantage of their telehealth benefit when needed, to achieve at least one Teladoc visit for every 10 members. We make engagement a reality. And that makes telehealth an understandable and useful tool for employees and their families to access care.