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Industry Insights
Quantifying the Total Savings of Telehealth for Employees
Industry Insights

In recent years, telehealth has proven its value as a cost-effective care model, helping to curb spend for employers in high-cost claims areas like musculoskeletal (MSK) care. But telehealth can unlock even more value—beyond employer bottom lines—by saving each employee with MSK conditions a significant amount of out-of-pocket costs every year. 

On average, studies show that telehealth can save an employee seeking MSK care about $900 in out-of-pocket costs per episode of care. For employers dealing with high rates of MSK issues, this can lead to substantial savings across the organization. For example, midsize employers (with up to 500 employees and a 50 percent prevalence rate of MSK conditions) could achieve total company-wide savings for employees of more than $200,000 per year.

Breaking down the cost savings per visit

From transportation expenses to taking time off from work, the costs of seeing clinicians in-person can add up quickly. Employees are acutely aware of these dollars and cents as well as the convenience value of video visits. Indeed, telehealth utilization continued to increase in early 2023, despite the growing availability and freedom to choose in-office visits (FAIR Health, 2023).

Zooming in, recent data sheds light on how telehealth generates end-to-end cost-savings for employees:

  • Travel time. Many employees, especially those who live outside of urban areas, must spend considerable time traveling to and from their appointment. One recent study which included more than 3 million telehealth encounters in California showed that virtual care on average saves individuals 17.6 miles and 35 minutes of travel time round trip per appointment (Sharma, 2023).
  • Gas and transportation. In addition to saving time, telehealth reduces the amount of gas employees need to get to and from their appointments. Based on an average round trip of 17.6 miles (priced at the standard mileage rate of $0.66 per mile), employees can save an average of $12 per visit on travel expenses (Sharma, 2023). For MSK care, which often includes at least one doctor's visit plus an additional 12 follow-up visits for physical therapy, these small amounts can multiply into bigger savings. By receiving MSK treatment from home, an employee could save $156 in travel costs per condition treated.
  • Visit costs. By using a fully-covered MSK telehealth benefit, employees can pocket a total of up to $720 in visit costs alone, or potentially even more depending on the circumstances. For example, according to new research from Cigna, employees save $120 just for one telehealth visit with a specialty doctor for low-acuity concerns–such as the vast majority of low back, neck, muscle and joint pain issues (Cigna, 2022). Add in the cost of typical co-pays for physical therapy—which typically run from $25 to $50 per appointment—and employees stand to gain up to an additional $600 for a typical 12-session physical therapy program.

Adding up these indirect costs of care, a fully-covered telehealth benefit can save each employee seeking care about $900 in out-of-pocket expenses per MSK issue.

Opening the door to more productivity, opportunity, and income

Telehealth likely yields even more savings than the indirect costs identified above by saving employees time. Time is a valuable commodity for MSK patients who already lose an average of 10 work days each year due to their conditions (USBJI, 2023). By cutting down on time spent away from way work in pursuit of medical care, telehealth can increase productivity and opportunity gains for employees, as well as potential income for hourly workers.

Studies show total time savings are substantial. Telehealth not only decreases travel time, it also cuts down on total visit length. One recent study evaluating the use of telehealth for cancer patients showed that virtual care saved patients an average of 1.2 hours of in-clinic visit time (Patel, 2023). Although the study was not designed to explain why telehealth visit time is shorter, the authors noted that eliminating the need for parking, registering, and waiting to see a clinician likely played a role (Cancer.gov, 2023).

Vori Health: Where telehealth savings meet appropriate care

Just by choosing a telehealth solution for MSK care, employers could potentially save their teams thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs each year. But the advantages of telehealth don’t stop with financial savings.

With the right virtual solution, employers can bring appropriate MSK care that improves outcomes right to their employees’ fingertips. Considering the amount of unnecessary surgeries that continue to plague bottom lines and put patients in harm’s way, greater access to appropriate non-operative care is now more critical than ever. Employers who partner with Vori Health open the door to this kind of care—all from the comfort of an employee’s home.

With up to a four times return on investment, Vori Health’s MSK program drives value for employers while delivering significant cost-savings for employees.

Ready to learn how telehealth for MSK can improve employee satisfaction and lower the cost of care? Reach out!


  • FAIR Health, 2023: Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker, January 2023: United States. (2023).
  • Sharma, 2023: *Sristi S, Yellowlees P, Gotthardt C, et al. Environmental Impact of Ambulatory Telehealth Use by a Statewide University Health System During COVID-19. Telemedicine and e-Health. Aug 2023. 1134-1142.
  • Cigna, 2022: Does Virtual Care Save Money? (2022).
  • USBJI, 2023: United States Bone & Joint Initiative. Lost Work Days. Accessed October 12, 2023.
  • Patel, 2023: Patel KB, Turner K, Alishahi Tabriz A, et al. Estimated Indirect Cost Savings of Using Telehealth Among Nonelderly Patients With Cancer. JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6(1):e2250211.
  • Cancer.gov, 2023: *Windstead E. (2023, February 16). Telehealth Can Save People with Cancer Time, Travel, and Money.

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