Are Canadian Employees Ready For Virtual Healthcare?
Canada has seen a significant shift in the role that health and wellness plays in the employee experience over the past decade; the Society for Human Resource Management reports that 80% of Canadian mid to large size employers now offer some level of employee wellness services or information. Other reports suggest that over 90% of Canadian employers with more than 200 employees offer some level of employee wellness programming — yet only 30% of companies measure how these programs impact their employees’ health and wellness.
An Avail Workplace Mental Health Industry Report | February 2019
With mounting pressures on decision makers to prove the business impact of their investments, employee health programs that deliver measurable results and meet the changing expectations and priorities of employees will rise to the top.
A new study commissioned by Medisys Health Group, in collaboration with Edelman and LegerWeb, reveals that Canadian employees are demanding healthcare at their fingertips — apps that let individuals connect directly and instantly with nurse practitioners, physicians and other health professionals through secure text and video chat, anytime and anywhere.
Canadian employees are demanding virtual healthcare to bypass barriers to traditional care (CNW Group/Medisys Health Group Inc.)
“Average smart phone usage has increased by 60% over the past three years — this coupled with ongoing access barriers and supply and demand challenges within our healthcare system makes it clear why Canadians are looking to supplement traditional doctor’s office visits with virtual consults,” said Dr. Vivien Brown, Vice President, Medical Affairs, Medisys Corporate Health.
The Medisys virtual health study, which surveyed more than 1,500 Canadian employees, revealed the following:
- 2 in 3 Canadians would use virtual care if it was provided in their employee benefit plan
- 71% of Canadians are willing to trade off current benefits for improved access to healthcare professionals and technology-supported services like virtual care
- Virtual care is most appealing to parents and caregivers (69%), those dealing with chronic health conditions (70%) and Millennials (67%)
- Only 9% of employee benefit plans currently include virtual care coverage
Participants said the biggest benefits of virtual care are access to care during late hours and weekends (67%), convenience (66%), avoiding increasing wait times at urgent care during late hours for minor health problems (62%), less time missed at work (47%), more regular visits with a healthcare professional (45%) and less stress (29%).
It’s not just employees who stand to benefit from virtual healthcare. With Canadians taking 2–6 days off per year for physician-related visits, according to research published in Benefits Canada, and each five-minute visit taking approximately two hours of time from the workplace, the financial benefit of virtual care equates to thousands of dollars in savings per employee annually, attributed solely to reduced absenteeism.
When considering employee wellness, virtual healthcare also poses a significant mental health advantage. Apps that include mental health services may encourage employees to seek help with mental and emotional health issues where they wouldn’t have otherwise; out-of-pocket costs along with stigma and lack of time make it difficult for Canadians to prioritize mental and emotional health.
According to Statistics Canada, 4.5-million Canadian residents do not have family doctors, and those who do cannot always get appointments when needed. Twenty per cent of Canadians wait seven or more days to see their doctor, while 61% of family doctors say they can’t accommodate urgent same-day or next-day appointments, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Forty thousand Canadians visit an ER every year just to renew prescriptions, and typically wait over four hours to see a physician — yet studies show 70% of visits to ERs or clinics can be replaced by online consultations without any impact on the quality of care.
The study, commissioned by Medisys Health Group and conducted in collaboration with Edelman through the LegerWeb Panel, was in field between August 28 and September 4, 2018, and surveyed 1,501 full-time and part-time employed Canadians with employee benefit plans, 18 years or older, and living outside of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The survey was offered in English and French. Results have been reported with a margin of error of +/- 2.5% at a 95% confidence interval.
More research is available here.
Ready To Help Your Employees Excel and Thrive?
Avail is a Software-as-a-Service (Saas) based holistic well-being solution for organizations and their employees. Avail’s proactive, mobile-first, anytime platform uses clinical and behavioural data-driven insights to provide employees with personalized well-being profiles that are increasingly refined to reflect changes in well-being as circumstances change. Each profile aims to equip employees with insight and actionable skills to achieve optimal mental well-being, strengthened resilience and a mindset that promotes high engagement and performance.
For employees with untreated mental health problems or who want to improve their mental wellbeing without stigma or privacy concerns, Avail’s Care Navigator recommends options ranging from psychoeducational content (e.g. articles, videos) to professional care from our national provider network. Care resources can be augmented with any care options your organization provides. For administrators, Avail’s aggregate analytics and insights track your organization’s care service utilization and identifies trends in the mental health and well-being of your workforce.
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