With the widespread adoption of mobile devices globally, along with faster wireless communications, many companies are looking for opportunities to enhance their employee benefits through Telemedicine. One of the biggest beneficiaries of adopting telemedicine to improve the health of their workers is the offshore and energy industry.
While Telemedicine has wide ranging benefits in improving access to care for many people, workers that are offshore face unique challenges. Some of them include:
- Working in rural areas with limited access to a healthcare facility.
- Being physically disconnected from any land mass – For example, calling a friend to take you to the doctor’s office or calling 911 for an ambulance unfortunately are not options.
- Weather – During heavy rains and storms, communications and transportation can be significantly affected.
- Work schedule – Many shifts last for a few weeks, adding to the complexity and timing of care and medications.
Companies currently provide offshore health services in different ways, ranging from a doctor being onsite to having key personnel trained on handling minor health issues as well as emergencies. Here are some of the key benefits of telemedicine for offshore workers:
- It improves access to medical care when needed. Being able to remotely connect with an onshore company physician or one’s personal doctor at a moment’s notice.
- It reduces the costs for non-urgent ER visits by eliminating transportation expenses to and from shore.
- Quality of care is often as good as in-person consultations, and in some cases even better.
- Use of video lets workers show their symptoms or health issues rather than only using words to describe their problem.
- Portable digital health devices and remote monitoring tools are widely available that can measure body functions to assist doctors.
- Telemedicine is often covered by a company’s health plan, for both primary care physicians and specialists.
While the technology and use of telemedicine continues to mature, people want access to care in the easiest and fastest possible way. In many circumstances, an in-person or onshore visit with a doctor will still be needed, but telemedicine can fill a gap in care for many non-emergency scenarios.