2020 was a challenging year. For businesses, families, individuals, the economy, Australia—basically everyone but our pets. The strain on our collective psyche has worried healthcare professionals struggling to adapt to increased demand while trying to deal with disrupted delivery of their services caused by the pandemic.
In late July, the Center for Disease Control released a report that showed 40% of adults reported struggling with increased substance abuse and mental health difficulties caused by pandemic related stress.
The world of healthcare has seen a massive shift towards virtual healthcare or telehealth services in recent months. A study from the NYU Grossman School of Medicine found that NYU Langone Health experienced a 683% increase in urgent virtual care visits and a staggering 4,345% increase in non-urgent virtual doctor visits.
Why should employers care?
While employers have slowly been integrating teleservices into their benefits packages for some time, they may not have seen much enthusiasm towards the services until now. And that increase isn't expected to go away. It's projected the telehealth industry will see a compound annual growth rate of nearly 40% over the next five years.
So, what does that mean for employers? That it's well past time to ensure they are offering telehealth services to their employees, not just as a quick fix but as a long-term solution. Because of the pandemic, most providers have successfully made the switch to offering virtual care, allowing those who already have insurance to stick to what's available to them.
But that may not be enough. Employers must make telehealth services available to their employees—not just in the form of physical wellness but also in behavioral and mental health.
As the pandemic's effects continue to wear on individuals and families, it will be increasingly likely your employees will start exhibiting signs of stress. Organizations must take steps to help prevent further harm from manifesting within their workforce by creating systems that can address challenges as they arise and support employees through them.
Overwhelmed? Here's where to start.
There's a lot of information about different services and how they've made a difference for employers. To get a handle on all of it, take these steps:
- First, do your research. Ask your broker about telehealth services you can provide and read up on them.
- Survey your employees. Find out what they want and need.
- Create an implementation plan. Educate your employees, not just once or in one way. Some of your employees may not be as comfortable adapting to new technology as others, so ensure you provide ample training and assistance to use it successfully.
Looking to the future
Like any new system, benefit, or practice you introduce to your employees, it's critical you don't just set it up and forget about it. Monitor the program closely and follow up with your employees to find out what's working and what isn't. Identify areas that can be improved and locate issues to address.
Now isn’t the time to be haphazard about your process. While the pandemic may make telehealth services easier to implement in some ways, remember it’s an attempt to address a critical issue that can mean life or death depending on its success or failure.
In the end, the best thing employers, leaders, organizers, and advocates can do is work together to provide the best quality care to the largest number of people. Make sure you're doing your part to support your employees, setting them (and your business) up for success.
There’s so much more to employee benefits than policies and premiums. A great benefits broker will make sure you, your employees, and your business are protected. Is your agent looking out for you?
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