What to look for in a Virtual Health Care Solution

The pandemic has brought health and wellbeing into the spotlight. Employees are now looking for more from employers than salary alone. A LifeWorks study reported that 77% of employees would leave their current job for an employer that provided better mental health and wellbeing benefits. 60% of employees said they were more likely to leave their current employer if they were offered less money but better support for personal well-being. This trend was seen even among those reporting high financial stress (51%).

Many employers are adding virtual health to their group benefits package. Virtual health can help access care, reduce wait times for care, and reduce employee’s time away from work. Telus Health reports 70% of virtual appointments take place during the workday and 85% of health concerns are resolved without and in-person visit.

The below are some elements of virtual health services to consider when evaluating the various offerings.

Quick and convenient

For many Canadians, their first point of contact with health professionals has been virtual during COVID-19. Benefits Canada reported that a poll conducted by Abacus Data between May 14 and 17, 2020, found those who’ve connected with their doctor virtually during the pandemic reported a 91% satisfaction rate — 17 points higher than in-person emergency room visits.

A virtual care service that employees can access health care in a timely, convenient fashion lets employees deal with health and wellbeing concerns quickly and efficiently. Some virtual health care services even offer prescription management and delivery which provides even more convenience.

Continuity of Care and Human Interaction

The ability of virtual health practitioners to access patient history from previous virtual health care visits will provide better service to patients and more complete care. Some virtual healthcare services also coordinate with the family physician if the patient would like.

Mercer Marsh Benefits found that the most common concern among employees who were hesitant to try digital health services was a lack of human attention. Virtual Health Care should be a combination of technology and human interactions.

In a Benefits Canada article, Dr. Dominik Nowak, family physician and Chair of the TELUS Medical Advisory Council said “Virtual should never mean less personal,”. “Whether that moment of care is in-person or through a screen, it’s our responsibility as health professionals to build the trust that is essential to quality care, co-design a treatment plan based on the individual’s values and needs and ensure that plan has continuity with their existing links to the health system.”

As virtual care becomes more widespread, the use of digital platforms and finding ways to create connections to patients virtually is becoming part of many healthcare professionals’ skill set. Encouraging virtual connections with patients will ease the worry that a virtual experience will lose the in-office experience. In person care will still be needed for some health concerns but in the future, virtual care services will be a beneficial accompaniment to existing health care.

“Our goal is to empower working Canadians with improved access to secure, quality care because we know that healthy employees perform better at work,” says Daniel Martz, vice president, virtual care, TELUS Health. “Through our virtual care service, employees and their families can receive compassionate, holistic care where and when they need it. Providing a virtual care experience with genuine human connections has become an essential part of managing health during the pandemic and we expect it to remain vital for years to come.” (source: Benefits Canada)

Virtual Health care is providing employers with an ability to provide a competitive advantage, fostering a culture of well-being. This will help set employers apart and enable them to build a more engaged, productive, and loyal workforce.

Newswire “Morneau Shepell finds employees would accept lower pay for enhanced well-being support”

Benefits Canada “Canadians cite 91 satisfaction rate with virtual health care survey”

Mercer “2020 Health on Demand Canada Report”

Benefits Canada “Holistic personal care. What to look for in a virtual care service for your employees”