Jeremy Falke

Capital Senior Living has seen a 400% increase in employee use of the telehealth benefit available through the company health plan this year compared with last year.

That increase, in turn, has led to an improved sense of satisfaction among employees and an improved bottom line for the Dallas-based organization, which is ranked No. 9 on the 2018 ASHA 50 list of the country’s largest senior living operators, Senior Vice President of Human Resources Jeremy Falke told McKnight’s Senior Living.

“We know in senior living there are a lot of single parents who work in our industry. We know [there are] a lot of entry-level roles,” he said. “The opportunity for someone to spend 10 minutes on their cellphone in a video chat with a doctor who can prescribe a medication or can help with a non-serious ailment helps with our productivity, and it helps our colleagues so that they’re not away from their life or having to spend additional money or have to traipse across town to their primary care physician or to urgent care,” which, in addition to being less convenient, also are higher-cost care options.

Capital offered telehealth as a benefit last year, Falke said, but in 2019, no deductible or copay is associated with its use for people who are covered by the company’s insurance plan, no matter how often they use it.

“I’m excited to see what a positive response we’ve had to it, because things like telemedicine are a bit innovative, and they’re aligned with a large portion of our workforce,” he said.

“Everybody loves it. I’ve used it, colleagues here at our central support office in Dallas have used it, and everybody has glowing comments about it,” Falke added. “It’s one of those strategies we like to find that are win-win — win for the employee, win for the company.”

Falke said his recent experience with the benefit shows just how quick and easy it is to use.

“My oldest daughter had a couple of spider bites on her arm a couple of weeks ago, and they were swollen and painful. And of course, living in Texas, she thought for sure they were brown recluse bites and that her arm was going to fall off,” he said. “Of course, they were not, but we got on the app and within about two minutes had a licensed Texas physician with us, and through the camera on the phone, looked at her spider bites and kind of talked about her symptoms and assured us that they weren’t brown recluse bites and that she was going to be OK. And then prescribed a topical ointment that would help with inflammation and the itching. Seven dollars later at the pharmacy, she was in shape, and 24 hours later, feeling much better. So it’s really powerful.”

Telehealth is one example of how Capital’s human resources programs and processes are tied to CEO Kimberly Lody’s new strategy of Stabilize, Invest, Nurture and Grow, or SING, Falke said.

“We’re starting to see a lot of very positive indicators of what that [SING] will do for our business,” he said. “This is a very competitive labor market, so we are making sure we have an excellent benefits program that has a modern design and that is available to all benefit-eligible employees across the company.”

Employee participation in the benefits plan has increased 40% in 2019 through August, Falke said. “That’s something that I’m really proud about, because we’re creating a better life and better benefits for the colleagues that are part of our family,” he said.

Editor’s Note: Look for an interview with Jeremy Falke in the October print issue of McKnight’s Senior Living. The magazine is free to those who qualify; to subscribe, complete this form.