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Posted by Audrey Ng Kwai Hang, December 10 2020
Workplace Wellness
Telemedicine... The New Normal?

telemedicine-covid19

Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Wear a mask.

This has become our daily mantra since March of this year. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have learned to quickly adapt to our new reality. This new reality has taught us to adapt to different ways of doing things: how we work, how we shop and even, how we consult a doctor. Read on to learn more!

Online Doctor: How Does Telemedicine Work?

Consulting a doctor through the use of telemedicine is a big shift for patients who would normally go to the hospital emergency room or wait in a crowded clinic to see a doctor. Telemedicine, or virtual care, is a service that facilitates consulting a medical professional by means of an electronic platform: laptop, computer, or smartphone. It allows long-distance patient and clinician contact, care, advice, intervention, monitoring, and remote prescriptions and referral services.

While the current form of telemedicine has existed for the last 5 years or so, there has been a notable increase in its usage since the beginning of the pandemic. And it’s no wonder why. According to a 2019 survey conducted by Sanofi Healthcare, 71% of plan members surveyed would be willing to use virtual health care technology to receive healthcare services. This is no surprise. In a scathing report released by the auditor general to the National Assembly in October 2020, access to health care in Quebec has not improved in years and seems to be worsening. It remains difficult to secure a family doctor as well as appointments with them when you have one. The number of people waiting for a family doctor is also steadily increasing. Over the past three years, it jumped 73 per cent.

Thus, the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic has undeniably catapulted telemedicine services among group insurance plan sponsors across the country. Almost 20% of the plan sponsors in our block of business now offer telemedicine to their employees.

Moreover, telemedicine utilization amongst insured plan members has increased 24% in comparison to a year ago and will likely increase over the next year as well. As we head into our second wave of the coronavirus pandemic the statistics on our block of business show us the following emerging trends:

  • Virtual consultations are equally used between women (54%) and men (46%)
  • Multiple age groups use the telemedicine service: with the top 3 age groups being 30-39 year olds (29%), 20-29 year olds (24%) followed by 40-49 year olds (20%)
  • The preferred time of day to consult a medical professional is during the day (59%), followed by evening (38%) and night (3%)
  • Weekday virtual consultations by far outnumber weekend consultations, 82% to 18%
  • The top four reasons that patients reached out to the telemedicine service were for infections (32%), mental illness consultations (21%), skin conditions (18%) followed by chronic illnesses (11%)
  • Most consultations resulted in the patients receiving drug prescriptions (39%), followed by medical consultations (24%), laboratory tests (18%) and referrals to specialists (18%)

The ease of accessibility, the present need to be socially distanced and the lack of traditional access to a doctor has prompted many plan sponsors to include telemedicine services to their group insurance plans. Thus, making this service a new reality. A new normal.

Are you considering offering the telemedicine to your employees? Not all telemedicine providers are created equally!
Download our checklist of the 10 elements to consider in selecting a telemedicine provider.

Do not hesitate to contact us should you have any question or want a quote.

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Audrey Ng Kwai Hang, Account Executive. With over 20 years of experience in Group insurance, prior to joining AGA, Audrey worked at several national insurance carriers and was responsible for business development and managing major corporate accounts. Over the course of the years, she is recognized as a trusted and approachable professional with the ability to inspire others as well as an agent of change. She is respected by colleagues and clients as an excellent communicator, with a keen ability to deliver presentations tailored to the needs of the audience. Audrey has a degree in Industrial Relations from McGill University.
Audrey Ng Kwai Hang