Online medical consultations: an employer’s perspective.

The three variables behind group insurance

When it comes to making decisions about group insurance, employers generally look at three broad variables. The first is technologies. According to a survey commissioned by PwC, 59 per cent of millennials factor in the technology provided to employees when deciding whether to accept a job offer.

The second variable is stress. As reported by Harvard Business Review, one Yale University study on professional burnout has shown that even the most dedicated and motivated employees are at risk.

The third and final variable is overall health. A study carried out by Morneau Shepell revealed that 60 per cent of Canadians are living with some form of diagnosed or undiagnosed chronic illness.

A need for change

Knowing that group insurance is a basic expectation among today’s employees, Cossette resolved to take its group insurance program in a new direction. In the end, the cutting‑edge and highly accessible nature of telemedicine proved an appealing formula.

According to Sandra Lécuyer, it’s important to understand that most medical consultations do not require a trip to the clinic or emergency room. For instance, 69 per cent of ER patients are classified as priority level 4 or 5.

Choosing the right provider

To choose the best telemedicine provider, Cossette looked at a range of parameters, including breadth of services, expertise, business hours, app quality, how long the company had been in business, and language options.

Minor changes still had to be made to Cossette’s existing group insurance plan (e.g., higher deductibles, modified coverage) in order to finance this new service without raising costs.

The pilot project

Cossette launched a pilot project at its Quebec City offices, providing 100 employees (approximately 10 per cent of Cossette’s entire staff) with access to the service for an initial six‑month period. After a total of nine months, the app had been downloaded by 73 per cent of the employees, 58 per cent of whom had actually used it. Meanwhile, the satisfaction rate was extremely high, at 95 per cent. Most negative feedback was related to business hours and the fact that the app cannot be used in the United States.

With regard to absenteeism, Cossette cannot say whether the app affected rates of absence, as they were not a point of interest during the pilot project.

In the end, telemedicine is a promising option for group insurance, enabling both employers and employees to take charge of their health. After all, staying healthy is an important safeguard against stress.

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