According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the health effects of coronavirus-related stress include increased fear and anxiety and disrupted sleep and eating patterns.
This isn’t great news when you’re trying to help your employees stay healthy and live well. But while the pandemic upended our lives, it also shone a light on a different method of care that will outlast the coronavirus: telehealth.
Employee Wellness Now Depends on Telehealth
Research finds that acute post-traumatic stress can have long-term effects, such as increased anxiety, physical pain, and a general state of poor health. But those who were already at risk may be the most vulnerable to coronavirus health risks. Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center surveyed patients with obesity, and about 73% percent reported increased anxiety during COVID-19. Additionally, more than two-thirds said they were exercising less and finding it more challenging to achieve their health goals.
Because of this, telehealth services have spiked since the COVID-19 outbreak. In 2018, a survey by the National Business Group on Health reported that while 96% of large U.S. companies offered telehealth options, about 80% saw less than 8% of employees use it. However, a recent survey of nearly 800 physicians found that almost half are now seeing patients using virtual services — an 18% increase from just two years ago. We suspect that number will continue to climb as the pandemic’s effects linger.
Now is the time to promote telehealth options with employees. It could be what helps prevent them from sliding into poor physical health habits. Employees have access to a wide range of virtual healthcare services, including online doctor’s appointments and telehealth nutrition services, so they can receive the care they need to live life to the fullest.
3 Benefits of Telehealth
Consider these three benefits of telehealth as you think about how to provide employees with the care they need:
• Accessible Healthcare
Telehealth improves access to care and eliminates the risk of exposure to illnesses. These services ensure that your employees get the care they need while they operate remotely. Even after COVID-19 is no longer a concern, employees will always have access to telehealth, whether they’re traveling for work or relocating to a rural area with limited healthcare options. Additionally, virtual appointments can be more cost-effective for everyone.
• Decreased Wait Times and Eliminated Commutes
In the past, appointments with physicians, therapists, and registered dietitians required planning, commuting, and waiting — lots of waiting. Telehealth services help solve all of that. Employees can easily schedule appointments with healthcare professionals from the comfort of their homes.
• Improved Communication and Access to Helpful Resources
With telehealth, qualified experts are just one click away, and professionals can also connect patients to additional online resources that supplement their care. For example, a registered dietician can evaluate a patient’s nutritional needs via videoconferencing and send over materials like meal plan ideas, shopping lists, and cooking tutorials. Patients will also get digital reminders when they’re due for routine appointments, so they’ll be less likely to cancel or reschedule when life gets busy.
If your employees are struggling with their physical and mental health, the coronavirus pandemic is likely to blame. Your workforce may be battling increased isolation, fear, and stress, all of which can impact long-term mental and physical health. Consider offering and promoting telehealth services to your workforce so that they can receive the care they need right now.