During a particularly busy work week, Bill Ray started feeling a cold coming on.
He knew the inconvenience the worsening symptoms would bring, problems he said he didn’t have time to deal with during such a hectic schedule.
Around the same time the cold started taking hold, Ray was giving a speech at the Mississippi Telehealth Association’s conference in downtown Jackson. There to tout a virtual health-care delivery program, one his own company had recently joined, Ray had joked with the crowd about needing to “visit” the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Center for Telehealth clinic.
He went online from work shortly thereafter and had a consultation with a health-care provider.
A few days later, a noticeably improved Ray, the president and CEO of BankPlus, was demonstrating the effectiveness of the telehealth system to Gov. Phil Bryant – all from a computer set up in his company’s HR offices in Ridgeland.
BankPlus, the largest Mississippi company to sign on with UMMC’s Corporate Telehealth program, has made the program available to all 725 employees at 60 of the company’s locations. By the fourth week in operation, the program has already treated nearly 50 patients – including its CEO.
“We did this to save our employees and company money,” said Ray, who said his company offers its employees access to the telehealth services for free. “There’s no co-pay, no cost to the employees.”
And the cost savings come in from the company by reducing the amount of time employees may be absent while waiting at a doctor’s office for a consultation.
Ray speaks during a press conference announcing the partnership
“So the employees don’t have to miss work, there’s no exposure to other sicknesses in a doctor’s waiting room and you’re guaranteed a same-day appointment,” added Ray, who said he would recommend telehealth to other Mississippi corporations.
The average person will consult a doctor for the following concerns at least three times a year: cold and flu, allergies, pink eye, ear infection, poison ivy, respiratory infection and sinus problems. A telehealth model in the workplace puts a stop to unnecessary and expensive medical visits, according to Dr. Kristi Henderson, UMMC’s chief telehealth and innovation officer
“UMMC recognizes the challenge for employees to find time to get health care and to stay healthy so we started our Corporate Telehealth program to make it easier,” said Henderson. “Our program provides convenient and accessible health-care services to employees in the workplace. A healthier workforce creates a healthier company.”
BankPlus employees can access the telehealth clinic via a designated computer in their offices. Ray said the computers are set up in a separate room to allow the employee privacy during the health-care consultation.
The mission is to help treat the urgent care needs that can cause employees to miss work while waiting on an appointment outside of the office. Any prescriptions needed can be picked up at a local pharmacy within an hour.
When it’s determined that in-person care is required, the employee will be referred to a local clinic.
Early reviews from BankPlus employees who have used the network have been positive, said Henderson, with responses pointing out the convenience, cost savings and efficiency of the system.
The UMMC Corporate Telehealth program launched in May 2014. With eight corporations currently enrolled, health care in the workplace is available to more than 2,600 employees across the state with plans to expand to 3,500 employees by January.