While the COVID-19 pandemic is not the only reason for the rise and widespread adoption of virtual medicine, it was and still is seen as a central catalyst for the emergence of virtual care. Due to circumstance and necessity, COVID-19 has pushed patients and society at large into the online care space, enabling access to healthcare as well as making patient safety a central priority.
During the pandemic, a study by the Care Coalition Telehealth Workgroup found that 67 percent of patients experienced lower costs when using a digital gateway compared to in-person visits. This study also found that 78% of patients reported that their telehealth visit addressed their concerns and immediate needs.
Times have changed and quarantine is a thing of the past; patients can now physically see their primary care and other providers; what is still driving the evolution of digital health today?
In 2021, more than 40 million Americans quit their jobs, evoking the phrase “The Great Resignation.” This trend continues in 2022. In May alone, 4 million voluntarily left their employer in search of better opportunities.
This economic phenomenon is now referred to as the Great Realignment. People are looking for hybrid/remote work, better work-life balance, or finding a position with better offers such as pay or benefits.
In a post-pandemic landscape, employee earnings are becoming one of the most critical aspects candidates must consider when evaluating a job offer. With this in mind, employers are revising their health benefits packages and breathing new life into them.
As an indication of things to come, 87% of US employers report making improved health benefits a top priority for their company. These next-generation benefits will include things like virtual primary care (VPC) or professional care in the home or workplace.
Some of the benefits employers and employees can expect from Next Generation Benefits include:
- Reduced travel time to and from a doctor’s appointment. Not only will this save commuting time, but it will save the costs and risks associated with it: time away from work and exposure to other people in the doctor’s office, to name a few. Increases productivity and reduces absenteeism.
- Virtual access to a licensed healthcare provider anytime, anywhere. If a patient requires in-person care, the transition can be seamless by having a provider at the patient’s location to work alongside a telehealth provider. Even lab work is now available at home.
- Continually providing quality care, maintaining expected standards, all at a reduced cost, keeping the workforce healthy, engaged in work and life, and satisfied with their benefits.
Employers are hoping that by revitalizing offerings to include next-generation health benefits such as VPC and home care, they can retain current skilled talent while being able to convince candidates who may be on the fence to make the leap and join their company.
The next step in behavioral care
The global pandemic, its attendant health tolls and volatile markets have filled our lives with anxiety and boundless uncertainty, impacting our physical and mental health.
Not surprisingly, according to the American Psychological Association, the demand for treatment for behavioral disorders such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and more increased between 2020 and 2021.
Now that the world is becoming the new “normal” and meetings can be held in person or virtually, an overwhelming 96% of psychologists plan to provide/offer digital services to their patients remotely.
Substantial change while maintaining a personal attitude
A visit to Dr. Google is an exercise in inevitable frustration, confusion, and misdiagnosis. Wanting an online expert to explain symptoms and then hoping for an accurate finding is unreliable and can lead patients down the wrong path.
Page after page, search after search, it’s just not the fastest and most accurate way to get reliable health information in today’s modern age. Next-generation healthcare services such as VPC, telehealth support for physical and behavioral health needs, and home care can provide clear and consistent treatment from professionals who are held to the same rigorous standards as providers you would see in person. The difference is that virtual care makes the process streamlined, convenient and affordable. Select digital gateway solutions can also provide patients with access to the same evidence-based clinical information that providers use, eliminating the uncertainty surrounding your average Google search.
Related: Attract and retain employees with a modern employee benefits program
As the world welcomes the new normal, patients will keep the digital front door wide open to continue to access the quality of care they expect. Next-generation benefits deliver high-quality care at a reduced cost while maintaining simplicity and ease of use. This dynamic can lead to empowered patients who determine health-related decisions with the ultimate goal of providing access and comfort to needed health services.
Keith Algozin is the co-founder and CEO of UCM Digital Health. A board-certified physician assistant, he was previously chief assistant in emergency medicine at St. Mary’s in Troy, New York, where he witnessed firsthand the challenges of the modern health care system. Keith was also part of the national emergency start-up management team for Pegasus Emergency Medicine. He represents UCM Digital Health on the American Telemedicine Association’s Accreditation Advisory Board and serves as an advisor to the Clinical Practice Guideline Committees addressing urgent and emergency telemedicine considerations.