The Role of Virtual Healthcare in Today’s Health Landscape

Virtual Healthcare

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted Canada’s healthcare system in several ways. It caused massive changes to processes and procedures, and one of the most lasting impacts involves virtual healthcare. The pandemic pushed virtual healthcare to the forefront, and it has now become a valued and sought-after service. It’s now become a key feature for many employee benefit plans.

Virtual Healthcare

Virtual healthcare is the process of connecting people with physicians and nurse practitioners using app and web-based platforms. This interaction occurs outside of conventional clinical conditions. Typically, the interaction occurs remotely via telephone or video conference.

Virtual healthcare professionals can address many of the health issues usually treated at a doctor’s office. Among other things, they can:

  • Diagnose medical conditions
  • Prescribe medications
  • Provide referrals
  • Order diagnostic tests
  • Monitor chronic conditions

Virtual healthcare is effective. According to the Canada Digital Health Survey, 81% of people who accessed virtual healthcare avoided an in-person visit. This phenomenon is here to stay.

Canada Health Infoway found that before the pandemic, 10-20% of medical care in Canada was virtual. This number increased dramatically during the pandemic, but by 2021 it had settled at 40%. The takeaway is that virtual healthcare is not going away and for many people, it’s already part of their everyday lives.

Supporting your Employees’ Health

Your employee health benefits package is designed to support the health of your employees. Traditional benefits cover prescription drugs and make it possible for employees to see a number of paramedical practitioners in support of better health. If you haven’t already, it’s time to move beyond traditional benefits to include virtual healthcare as part of your benefits plan.

Access to Quality Care

The most important way that virtual healthcare supports the health of your employees is by improving access to quality medical care. It’s true that some General Practitioners (GPs) offer virtual healthcare as part of their practice, but virtual healthcare as part of your employee benefits package takes it further.

GroupHEALTH partners with TELUS Health to provide virtual healthcare as part of employee benefit plans. The service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It’s an important tool to keep your employees healthy. It helps employees get the care they need, when they need it, and how they need it.

Virtual healthcare removes barriers to accessing health services; there are more barriers than you may think. Travelling to and from a healthcare provider is in itself a barrier. It can be exhausting for someone suffering from an illness to travel to a provider. Arranging transport, and/or paying for that transport are additional barriers.

Reaching out for help can also be a barrier. Consider someone struggling with mental illness who is hyper-aware and sensitive of the perceived stigma around their struggles. If that person decides they are going to seek help but calls their doctor and finds out they must wait two weeks to be seen, they may lose their drive to source the support. Being able to speak to a doctor right away through virtual healthcare is helpful.

Seeking medical assistance often means missing shifts for some Canadians. If an employee perceives that missing work to visit a doctor will be viewed negatively, they may not do it. Virtual healthcare removes this barrier because employees can access care at a time and place that is convenient for them.

This benefit is especially relevant and beneficial for employees who do not have a family physician. Long wait times at walk-in clinics can be a huge deterrent for an employee seeking medical services.

The very best way you can support the health of your employees is to give them better access to healthcare. Virtual healthcare benefits are the way to do it.

Supporting the Success of your Business

Employee health benefits are an investment you make to contribute to the success of your business. Virtual healthcare supports your business in a number of ways.

1. Healthier Employees

With better access to healthcare, your employees are likely to achieve better health. Timely, quality care will help address health issues and prevent them from deteriorating. Healthier employees can mean productivity gains.

When not facing physical and mental health issues, employees are more likely to be operating at an optimal performance level, which means they are more productive. It’s easy to see how this is good for business.

2. More Present Employees

When an employee is dealing with physical or mental illness, understandably, they are likely to be absent from work more often. Or they may come to work while dealing with an untreated illness and perform at a sub-optimal level (sometimes referred to as ‘presenteeism’).

Virtual healthcare can impact absence levels and presenteeism because it improves access to healthcare. It makes it more likely for employees to get the medical attention they need so they can maintain their work schedule and performance.

3. Engaged Employees

A good employee health benefits plan can foster a higher level of employee engagement. This can help with employee retention. Employees with comprehensive, relevant benefits are more likely to stay with your organization than seek employment elsewhere. This is important now when the labour market is competitive.

Virtual healthcare is a benefit that employees want. It’s an effective and convenient way to access healthcare and a sought-after benefit for many employees. Including virtual healthcare as part of your benefits plan can pay off for your business through retention and employee engagement.

Good advice is key

Virtual healthcare has become the norm, and if you don’t already have it as part of your benefits plan, you should. Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone or in-person or contact us for a comparison quote.

Whether you’re looking for extended health and dental coverage, disability coverage, or life and critical illness coverage, GroupHEALTH has affordable benefit packages that work as hard as you do.

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