Imagine you are a business traveler who spends 80% of your work time traveling: you spend 4 days on the road and 1 day per week back in the office. You have a million things demanding your attention and time. How do you maintain any consistency in managing your physical or mental health when juggling that kind of schedule?
For business travelers dealing with a chronic medical condition or ongoing treatment needs for an acute condition, continuity of care and staying healthy has been challenging. Historically, visits with your physician could only be accessed by going to your provider’s physical office location. Continuity with a specialist for a chronic condition or your primary care team is important, so trying to align your travel schedule with the provider’s schedule is likely a challenge. Seeking treatment for a non-emergency reason at an urgent care or emergency room is not ideal, especially when it means you lose any coordination between the providers you see when you are going between providers/health systems.
Enter the world of virtual medical and mental health visits, a huge boon for the business traveler. Many insurance plans now include virtual visits or telemedicine services. Many health insurers are actually incentivizing patients to try these services in lieu of an emergency room, urgent care, or office visit. The convenience that they offer for a business traveler cannot be undervalued – imagine being able to see your physician about a suspected sinus infection from your hotel room in another city rather than having to suffer through the pain until you get home days later. Imagine being able to check in with your regular doctor for a question about your dosing or health condition such as a trend in higher blood sugars or sudden increased intensity of migraines. Encouraging our travelers to establish these virtual connections with their care team could actually help them better manage their health. While not the panacea for staying healthy, telemedicine and virtual visits are a huge opportunity for our business travelers.
Keeping our business travelers healthy is an obvious duty of care focus for a travel manager. Consider that mental health visits conducted virtually can help our travelers stay mentally and emotionally healthy, which is just as important as their physical wellbeing. If an insurance program does not cover telemedicine/virtual behavioral and mental health visits, perhaps providing coverage for one of the interactive apps or online therapy portals is an option for your travelers. Providing business travelers with options that improve the consistency in their treatment is crucial, especially since traveling for business demands the employee’s flexibility for the benefit of the company.
The reality is that we have the technology for business travelers to do their work from almost anywhere. As travel managers we need to better align the benefits our companies offer to our traveler’s needs. Start by evaluating what type of benefits your company does offer. True, you may have to think creatively about how to ensure that your travelers are covered while on the road, but it’s incredibly important.
As travel managers, we need to always put ourselves in the shoes of the traveler. Think about what you would do if you needed care while on the road. Think outside of the emergency room and urgent care scenarios – it’s likely that our travelers need something different than just knowing where the closest urgent care or hospital is. We need to make sure they have the tools needed to do their job well, and one tool is knowing how to access care that is reliable, consistent, and readily available while traveling.