How COVID-19 Transformed Virtual Health Benefits
While we can finally see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, the global crisis has transformed our relationship with online technology. Though many employees are eager to say farewell to glitchy Zoom meetings and makeshift home offices, there’s one change that will likely continue: virtual health care.
Virtual health care is not a new concept but it has drastically evolved since the onset of the pandemic. With employers facing unique challenges around how to keep their employees healthy, accessible health care options are growing in popularity.
Virtual Health Care Options
Virtual health care services provide employees with accessible and flexible options to support their well-being. With many Canadians struggling to maintain a work-life balance amid challenges like remote work and virtual learning for their children, these services can be a godsend.
Whereas services like Telehealth Ontario connect people to a Registered Nurse, virtual health care goes far beyond phone calls. These services are offered via video-conferencing, texts, and emails. Virtual health care has even incorporated wearable technology where people’s health can be monitored remotely by health care professionals. Benefit providers continue to invest in making virtual health care easy to access, and now provide apps to connect users to 24/7 support.
For employees with virtual health care offerings, they can connect with a wide range of medical professionals from physicians, psychologists, and dieticians – all at their fingertips. Employees can get prescriptions and refills, be referred to medical specialists, and receive virtual mental health counselling. Parents can receive advice from medical professionals for concerns about their children’s health. People with non-urgent injuries can be assessed by a physiotherapist and provided with video exercises to support their recovery.
How Virtual Health Care Impacts the Workplace
In a recent survey by Aon, 27% of Canadian employers plan to add virtual health care benefits to their plans. While this is a positive change resulting from the pandemic, virtual health care is worth offering for the long-term too.
Even before 2020, many employees were not attending their doctor’s appointments. In a study by IPSOS, 68% of Canadians had missed a doctor’s appointment or chose not to see their doctor at all. Some of the key reasons for this include the difficulty of booking appointments around working hours or long wait times at walk-in clinics.
For employees, the ability to access virtual health care is welcomed. According to a study by Environics Research and sponsored by Dialogue, 82% of survey participants felt their employer should provide access to virtual health care, and 66% noted they would consider using virtual health care if it was available through their benefits plan.
And what about those who have used virtual health care? In a survey by the Canadian Medical Association, 91% of Canadians are satisfied with using virtual care services.
Employers who offer virtual health care options not only contribute to the well-being of their employees but in the overall health of their company. Healthy and happy employees increase workplace productivity and that is worth the investment.