The pandemic has triggered many people to rethink how they access healthcare services. With lockdowns and social distancing requirements, popping to a GP surgery to be seen was, suddenly, no longer a viable option.
Now, as employees return from furlough and working from home, we are tasting a sense of normality once more. But what is sure is that people will continue wanting to access healthcare services in innovative ways. That’s why employers need to ensure any health-related employee benefits they provide are relevant, keep up with employees’ needs and enable access to the latest healthcare services.
[Related reading: The Future Of Health Insurance Post-COVID]
Here are some of the digital healthcare trends we can expect to see become more widespread going forward.
Virtual GP services -- which enable patients to have consultations with a doctor remotely -- afford many positives for both the GP and the individual. With no travel required (time and money savings) and less social contact, both patient and doctor stand to benefit.
Obviously, such services are not appropriate for emergencies, but they really can help for minor check-ups and patients who would like a prescription for some routine medication.
Many individuals have been taking advantage of at-home health initiatives for decades with many benefits. For example, by keeping an eye on their blood sugar levels with personal kits and administering insulin, diabetics can proactively manage their conditions.
Now, with the plethora of wearable personal health devices, such as smartwatches that monitor heart rate, steps and more, individuals can manage their health even more easily.
This is a trend that will only proliferate as we head into the future.
The next step for wearable personal health devices is to automatically send relevant data to an individual’s physician. Any untoward signs and signals can be interpreted by the healthcare professional, who can then contact the person, if necessary, to discuss the situation.
This kind of proactive monitoring can lead to better patient outcomes by potentially spotting conditions while they are in their infancy and enabling faster treatment.
While physical health can be intuitively monitored using wearables, solving the mental health puzzle is a bit trickier. Luckily, though, more and more digital mental health services are appearing.
According to ORCHA, the Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Apps, the COVID-19 lockdown helped drive significant increases in searches for mental health-related apps. Indeed, searches were all up for apps relating to anxiety (328%), depression (156%) and stress (113%). This highlights how individuals are increasingly turning to digital solutions to help them with any mental health issues they may be experiencing.
Does your organisation currently offer virtual GP services as part of its employee benefits packages? The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted just how crucial these types of health services are. Going forward, employees will expect them to be part and parcel of the benefits they can take advantage of. If you’re not providing them and your competitors are, you could end up losing out.
Contact us today to discuss such initiatives and discover how easy and affordable they can be to provide.