Virtual Healthcare

Fast and easy access to medical support.

3 min read

Are you struggling to make time to get to the doctor? Or are your staff missing time at work to manage their own, or their family’s health? Virtual healthcare could be a solution. Forms of virtual healthcare and telemedicine have been available through private companies and public services for some time. And now, group benefits providers are starting to offer virtual healthcare options, too. Learn more about this rising star in the world of Canadian healthcare and employee benefits.

What are Telehealth/Telemedicine and Virtual Healthcare?

Both Telehealth (sometimes called Telemedicine), and Virtual Healthcare offer remote patient medical support, via phone or video chat.  These services are becoming increasingly popular, and meet different types of needs; however, Canada is still in the process of clarifying how they’re paid for.  In the province of Saskatchewan Telehealth is actually integrated with regional health authorities. However, there are also many private virtual healthcare companies, often providing 24/7 services. Private services can be a great option for companies to include in their employee benefits package.

How does Telehealth work in the Provincial Government system?

Different providers, provinces and health care authorities that offer telehealth or virtual healthcare operate slightly differently.  When connected to provincial and regional governments, the options are often about providing better patient access to specialized services, and in particular, providing options to support people living in remote areas.  In Saskatchewan, patients can receive Telehealth only when their family physician refers them for an appointment with a specialist and that specialist deems that a telehealth appointment is appropriate for the patient. Just like a regular specialist appointment, a telehealth appointment will need to be scheduled when the specialist is available; this means it may not happen immediately. You can learn more about Saskatchewan’s Telehealth experience on eHealth Saskatchewan. If you’re in a remote area and need specialist support, ask your family physician about this service.

How is Private Virtual Healthcare different?

Private virtual healthcare companies provide a full range of health care support, on demand, and often, 24/7. In this context it takes the place of your family physician or the physician you might see in a walk-in clinic.  In some cases, it can even replace emergency room visits; however, this is only when you may need an off-hours consultation for an issue that isn’t a true emergency.  

Doesn’t my Employee Assistance Program already do this?

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPS) do offer certain health and mental health services on-demand; however, EAPs are focused on counselling.  EAPs might support you through some of the emotional struggles of dealing with health issues, or provide health promotion education. They don’t take the place of a physician.

How does Virtual Healthcare save costs?

For employers, providing a remotely available health service in your employee benefits package offers some excellent rewards for you, your staff and their families. Having services available during off-the-clock hours means staff can better manage to fit healthcare support (for themselves, or for their children and families) into their day without needing to take sick time. On average employees take 2-4 days off per year per year for health appointments; however, virtual healthcare can reduce or eliminate these. More importantly, when employees are able to easily access healthcare support at any time, they are less likely to put off care. This means they will get support for health challenges before issues progress and require more extensive support.

A few other perks of providing Virtual Healthcare to your team.

If you have staff who work remotely or travel a lot for work, virtual health can also be a great way to ensure they have ongoing and consistent health services, even while they are on the road.

And, if you’re looking to bring in the best employees by offering an attractive and competitive benefits package, a virtual healthcare service goes a long way.  According to Medisys’s 2019 virtual healthcare industry report, 67% of Millennials want virtual care access and 71% of Canadians are willing to trade some of their current benefits for virtual care.

In today’s hectic world, virtual health and telehealth are offering some excellent solutions to get fast and supportive healthcare that works around everyone’s schedule, and with the tools that we all have handy. It’s revolutionizing the way we care for ourselves. While it’s taking time for telehealth to grow in the Canadian market, the benefits of this type of service mean it’s only a matter of time. 

If you want to learn more about telehealth, and virtual health, check out some of the resources we used to create this post, or get in touch with us:

From one of our partners, Benefits by Design: