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Younger Canadians embracing virtual healthcare

November 1, 2021 • read

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Younger Canadians embracing virtual healthcare

This article was originally featured in Canadian HR Reporter

Healthcare has reached a point of disruption – and at the height of this disruption is the COVID-19 pandemic, where technology is making its presence felt. This is a defining moment for the field, as we race to reduce costs, improve access, and transform delivery.

At the forefront of transformations in healthcare is virtual healthcare, gaining prominence in Canada, especially among the younger digitally savvy population. Virtual healthcare is a broad term, encompassing the entirety of remote and technology-driven healthcare solutions that can take place between a patient and a healthcare professional.

When it comes to younger groups, stress and chronic health conditions are the two main drivers impacting productivity levels in the workplace. According to the Canadian Medical Association, interest in virtual healthcare for mental health services is highest among younger Canadians between the ages of 18 to 34. Just over 50 per cent are likely to use the service to consult mental health practitioners over video or audio.

It’s important for employers to recognize this preference among younger working Canadians as they tend to associate overall job satisfaction with employer-provided benefits.

Reducing absenteeism

Virtual healthcare has also been shown to reduce absenteeism and other related health and medical costs for employers. The average employee takes 8.5 sick days per year, resulting in $2,000 of direct absence costs, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Commonwealth Fund Survey 2019.

With virtual on-demand healthcare providers like Maple, users can access a licensed practitioner from anywhere in Canada, whenever they need it. Other providers may have a longer triage process that results in patients waiting several hours, or even days, for an appointment.

“Many young working Canadians face time constraints when visiting health practitioners,” says Christy Prada, VP of Business Development at Maple. “These constraints can include wait times to see both doctors and therapists, so by implementing innovative programs like virtual care, employers can help alleviate some of these challenges. This helps empower employees to take care of their health and boost morale.”

An Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of RBC Insurance also confirmed that younger working Canadians are most likely to value healthcare support offered by their employer in the form of virtual care. In this poll, 80 per cent of Canadians reported that their overall well-being would improve if their employer were to offer a wellness program that’s more personalized to their specific health goals. The poll also revealed that 94 per cent of respondents are more likely to work for an employer that cares about their overall health and well-being.

“It’s important for employers to offer a benefits package that considers the needs of their workforce, especially as new generations enter the market and as we consider a new future hybrid work environment coming out of the pandemic,” says Prada. “Keeping employees safe and providing the appropriate care for their teams is expected from employers now more than ever. This also meets the demands of a younger generation accustomed to convenience and real-time solutions.

Well-being in the workplace

With 71 per cent of Canadians willing to trade their current benefits for digital tools like virtual care, well-being in the workplace is becoming increasingly important. Studies demonstrate that employee health and happiness is more and more linked to better performance and productivity. Workers are increasingly leaving companies for better benefits, and sometimes even less pay. Others refuse to join organizations that don’t offer robust digital benefits.

As younger generations embrace the advantages of virtual healthcare, it’s beyond question that it’s here to stay.

To learn more about adding virtual care to your employees’ benefits programs, get in touch.

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