At Piedmont Health, we’re proud to use innovative technology to help our patients. But we’re equally proud that we use it to help our employees.

Last year, we began offering RelyMD as a free benefit to our employees. RelyMD was founded a couple of years ago by a group of emergency medicine physicians in North Carolina who believed that healthcare can be delivered in a more convenient, efficient, and cost-effective manner.  The service allows patients to consult a doctor with the aid of a smartphone or computer rather than going to an emergency room.

RelyMD goes beyond looking up symptoms or watching a video on some website; It connects patients with doctors via a live feed. Doctors ask patients questions and are able to see symptoms; the doctor may, for example, ask a patient complaining of strep throat to point the camera of their phone or computer into their mouth.

The advantage of this for employees is that a doctor can say to you, “You really don’t need to go to the emergency room.” Or they might tell the patient that they do need to go to the emergency room or to an urgent care center. In either case, the doctor can call ahead to let the facility know the patient is coming and what the problem is.

We offer RelyMD to all of our 330 employees. Including family members covered by employees’ health insurance, the service covers 511 people.

At Piedmont Health, we want our employees to get emergency care at a hospital when it’s necessary. But we want to also give them the option of getting care in a more convenient and less expensive way when they can.

Those who use it tell us they love it. They know that they can get care at any time of the day without having to go to the emergency room, where they often have to wait.  And the cost for RelyMD treatment is significantly less than the $300 employee copay for an emergency room visit.

The service also is tremendously helpful to the company. The cost to Piedmont to use RelyMD is at least 50 percent less than the $1,000 we have to pay out when an employee has to go to the ER. The more money we save on health expenses for our employees, the more money we have for employees’ salaries.

And RelyMD also benefits the health system as a whole; it frees up money that can be used for all kinds of other purposes.

It’s all part of the equation that drives us: The right care at the right place at the right cost.

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