During this unprecedented time in our collective history, we are all dealing with the new and unknown, which seems to change by the hour. Adjusting to the demands and expectations of this new workforce is challenging all of us to expand into uncharted territory and develop in ways unfathomable only a few months ago.

Companies are seeking unique solutions to challenges that until recently seemed like a bad sci-fi movie. Employees mandated to work from home? Transitioning product lines over to healthcare PPE? How to institute sanitary process for workers to slow the spread of a global pandemic? Most of us are still shaking our heads over the new reality in front of us.

New solutions abound however, from free services to exercise while working from home, online educational resources for kids, the rise of video conferencing, and ways to keep employees engaged and healthy at work to maximize productivity. Telehealth and telemedicine platforms are gaining not just popularity but necessity as patients and medical professionals alike look for ways to treat health conditions and still comply with quarantine or “stay at home” orders. It is important to note the difference however, and recognize the various benefits of how they can be applied to your workforce.

Telemedicine options are for a patient and a medical practitioner to speak over telephone or video conference to discuss clinical health symptoms related to sickness or injury. Telehealth options can include non-clinical services for physical health, such as muscle soreness.  Think of telemedicine as an option once you are sick or injured, and telehealth is what to use when you want to stay healthy.  As the COVID crisis continues to unfold, both options can be used to keep employees healthy and provide access to healthcare for sick employees.  With most employers demanding more from the employees that are at work, or managing workers working from home, a whole new set of physical issues can come to light.  Symptoms like muscular soreness, aches and pains still happen, and how companies address these employee issues will have long lasting effects.  Continuing to provide preventative services will position your company to retain employees, maintain job satisfaction, and come through the COVID crisis as a valued company.

If you are currently deemed an essential business under CISA, your employees are showing up to work, under increased stress both psychologically and physically.  They have increased production demands, potentially with new product lines and workflows, all while emotionally and psychologically gauging their exposure to COVID.  If you have employees working from home, potentially for the first time ever, they are balancing child care, homeschooling, lack of proper office equipment, and emotional grief and isolation from valued coworkers and friends.  Either situation has a lot of risk factors for good old fashioned soreness, or worse, physical injury.

New payment funding allows patients to see doctors or therapists via telemedicine appointments, especially for COVID symptoms.  Although this situation is still developing, funding and reimbursement guidelines and criteria is per insurer and plan requirements.  Your health plan can help you determine if your employees have access to telemedicine appointments from their home for sickness and injury.  Knowing which clinical providers in your area are now offering telemedicine appointments and are open for in-person visits is an important step to keeping non-critical employees out of urgent care and ER during this pandemic.

Telehealth services allow your employees to meet with a therapist for musculoskeletal soreness related to work tasks by assessing and intervening via video conference.  Telehealth visits for one-on-one care for musculoskeletal soreness can provide needed physical guidance and consultation to reduce symptoms like discomfort, tingling, or achiness. These options avoid OSHA recordables by keeping your essential employees on the job and healthy and avoiding a work comp or health care services.

Non-traditional mobile therapist service options can bring for your workers to stretch and exercise includes outdoor parking lot stretches at scheduled break times, while maintaining social distancing, or a video link offered to employees to perform simple stretches and movements at home during their home office hours.  While companies are navigating new OSHA, CDC, and state regulations, it is important to note that preventative services should continue or increase to provide for the employer’s workforce at work and at home to prevent further work comp or health care costs.  The last thing you need right now is an expensive work comp claim for a musculoskeletal injury due to work.

How can your existing medical and service providers help? What is working well for you? What are your challenges? Telehealth, telemedicine, and mobile services are available with a very short start up timeline, so you and your employees can get the care you need quickly and efficiently.

As we navigate this new economy together, take care of yourself and those around you.  Stay informed, stay positive, and Stay Well!