With the COVID-19 lockdown, many employees found themselves suddenly unable to access their usual healthcare providers—from general physicians to paramedical and mental health practitioners—and a solution was urgently needed to bridge the gap. Enter virtual care.
Virtual care has been a hot topic in Canada for many years, but Canadian organizations have generally been slow to adopt it. According to the 2018 Canadian Virtual Healthcare Study (commissioned by Medisys Health Group, in collaboration with Edelman), only 9% of Canadian employers were offering virtual healthcare services to their employees at that time.
Not surprisingly, the pandemic has accelerated the pace of change. According to a recent Canadian Medical Association (CMA) poll, almost half of Canadians have now accessed a physician using virtual care, and 91% of those who did so were happy with the results.
In fact, 46% of those who have used virtual care during the pandemic say they prefer it as their first point of contact with their doctor. And why not? It’s quick, convenient – and avoids the hassle of waiting for hours in a crowded emergency room.
Greater use of virtual care could alleviate some of the stress on the Canadian health care system, reducing wait times and helping ensure access to urgent care for those who really need it. Per the CMA poll, half of Canadians believe virtual care could impact the cost of our health care system, improving access to specialists (45%) and timeliness of test results (41%).
Jason Traetto, Director of Benefits, Wealth & Recognition Programs with Rogers Communications, notes the demand for virtual care came directly from employees during the pandemic, and the organization moved quickly to provide access.
“We saw a need, in today’s landscape, to tailor our benefits offering to what our employees need now,” he explains. “Offering a virtual health care solution has helped us support our employees with their healthcare needs while practicing social distancing—and, most importantly, staying safe.”
Chances are that virtual care in Canada is here to stay. If it supports both employees and our healthcare system, it’s a win-win—and the Canadian healthcare landscape could be better off as a result.
Find the latest COVID-19 guidance for plan sponsors on the International Foundation coronavirus page.
Director, Education and Outreach – Canada
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