Virtual care: Your answer for a healthy workforce

If your business is having trouble filling job vacancies, you’re certainly not alone. Changing demographics, a healthy economy, and stiff competition is making talent scarce. In fact, the majority of global CEOs say it’s their top internal concern.

In a talent-driven market, organizations need to offer more than a competitive salary; increasingly, employees are looking for employers to help them get healthy and stay healthy. While some companies are offering gym memberships and leaner options in the cafeteria, a growing number are looking at virtual healthcare as a way to attract and retain a healthy workforce.

Virtual healthcare uses mobile devices to connect patients to doctors and other medical practitioners 24/7. Whether it’s advice about a sick child in the middle of the night or a routine prescription renewal, a new report from Medisys Health Group finds 69% of Canadians would give virtual care a try if a regular office visit was inconvenient.  

Employees struggle to access care

Canadians take between two and six days a year (more if they have kids) off work just to go to the doctor, and if your employees are among the 4.5-million people without a family physician, chances are they are missing work to sit in crowded walk-in clinics or emergency rooms. Worse, they may not be seeking treatment at all – one study found almost seven out of ten Canadians skip the doctor because of the long wait times, and another found that two-thirds of Canadians don’t seek treatment for mental health concerns.

Health-related absenteeism is costing employers about $16-billion in revenue each year, and workers who come to work when they really aren’t well enough, sometimes called presenteeism, are adding to this lost productivity. Mental health issues account for much of the problem, causing half a million people in Canada to miss work each week. Sadly, a lack of access to mental health professionals and a lingering stigma keep many of these people out of treatment, even if the employer offers an employee assistance program (EAP).

With so many barriers to getting timely healthcare, it’s not a surprise that 71% of employees say they would trade some of their current benefits for access to virtual care. The Medisys study also found that employees are attracted to virtual care because of:

  • After hours and weekend access to practitioners
  • Convenience
  • Less time off work
  • More regular visits with healthcare providers
  • Less stress around medical appointments

Virtual care is quality care

Connecting digitally to a health care practitioner can be as simple as a text message or can take advantage of mobile apps or a video or audio consultation. Almost 80% of patients who have used a virtual visit say the quality of the care was identical to an in-person consultation and 91% said the appointment helped them deal with their issue.

In a recent pilot project, one Quebec-based company saw a 95% satisfaction rate among its employees who used a virtual care app to conduct over 700 consultations with care providers. You can learn more about the company’s results in this article and video presentation.

Virtual care is widely used by employers in the U.S. and elsewhere, and Canadian insurers are excited about the potential to protect employees while helping to lower healthcare costs both for government and employers. Some estimates show that mid-sized companies could save as much as 2,625 hours of productivity if just half their staff used virtual care instead of missing work to see the doctor.

Virtual care is also a great way to stand out in the competitive labour market, particularly if you’re trying to attract and retain Millennials, 67% of whom say they want virtual care access.

To learn more about how virtual healthcare can benefit Canadian organizations, click here to download the full report from Medisys Health Group, a TELUS Health Company.

To learn more about how TELUS Employer Solutions can help your human resources team drive results in your organization, please contact us today.