Let’s face it, in today’s world, people want what they want – now. This creeping mindset has infiltrated nearly every part of the human experience, even when it comes to healthcare. In fact, that trend has become pervasive and will help shape the future delivery of care. Employers must take note, especially as it appears that COVID-19, while slowed, is not disappearing anytime soon.
Just What is On-Demand Healthcare?
Basically, on-demand healthcare means connecting patients with healthcare providers via technology such as mobile apps, videoconferencing, real-time online, and websites. A lot can get done with these tools, everything from remote consultations to scheduling appointments. The idea is to access healthcare services swiftly, easily – and safely.
What is Driving the Demand?
Most employees, as well as providers, are on board with this trend, not only due to the pandemic, but because of a national shortage of primary care doctors and specialists, which has increased wait time at ERs and urgent care, and even in physician waiting rooms.
Results from a recent survey in England showed that 64 percent of respondents said their satisfaction with healthcare services depended upon how long they had to wait for appointments. What’s more, some 62 percent called the convenience of appointment times a primary factor in satisfaction levels, and 60 percent said cited the convenience of location.
The Growth of On-Demand
Employees increasingly want digital services as part of their healthcare benefits. In fact, 52 percent of those surveyed said they would use a virtual health coach, and 45 percent indicated a willingness to use smart tech for diagnoses and to find the proper treatment.
The historic pandemic has certainly accelerated the adoption of new technology. In fact, during the worst of the outbreak, on-demand healthcare has been a necessity. What with lockdown restrictions, and let’s face it, simple fear, many employees have been eager to have remote visits with their doctor.
The Advantages of On-Demand Healthcare
Harnessing digital technologies for healthcare empowers patients to take more control of their health, frees up clinicians, and improves personalized services.
The use of such technologies helps employers too, as no longer do most doctor appointments necessitate taking a half or whole day off work for commuting and, yes, hanging out in the waiting room. Instead, patients can simply schedule a virtual appointment that fits their work schedules. All of this also serves to enhance the patient experience.
Such technology also comes in handy in urgent situations. If a patient has, say, a high fever or severe headache, they usually can book an on-demand virtual visit with their physician for instant support and consultation.
A Future with On Demand
Through the years, the healthcare sector has dragged its feet a bit in the adoption of novel technologies. However, the pandemic may have helped to nudge the industry off the mark. Owing to the heightening popularity of connected digital devices and on-demand consumer services, the days of 100 percent in-person care may be gone forever. And again, employers should take note when putting together their benefits packages, as employees have come to expect such services.
In summary, employees want more on-demand healthcare as part of their benefits package, in part due to convenience, but also because it makes them feel safer. With COVID-19 disrupting healthcare utilization and contributing to employee stress, organizations must develop progressive strategies for virtual healthcare. Doing so is also a part of finding new ways to accommodate remote employees.
If you need assistance in this area, you should consider contacting the leading healthcare benefits consultant Mercer, which can help you put in place virtual healthcare tools such as telemedicine, which got a big boost during the height of the pandemic.