Health cash plans offer more than traditional benefits. Jennie Doyle explains how products are evolving to provide virtual health services
For some employees attending a doctor’s appointment isn’t always easy. Barriers such as inconvenient appointment times, travelling distance and busy schedules can often make it difficult for an employee to get to the doctors. Waiting times for GP appointments are also increasing. A recent survey suggested that next year the average time people will have to wait to see their GP will be two weeks.
Add to this time spent waiting for prescriptions and follow-up appointments and we can understand why employees can often struggle or feel frustrated with a simple task such as attending a doctor’s appointment. A simple ten-minute consultation can, for many people, mean a few hours’ absence from work.
How health cash plans can help
Health cash plans are evolving. They no longer just provide cashback for dental, optical and physiotherapy benefits, although we still recognise that these are the core benefits that both employers want and employees use. Providers are recognising the changing needs of the market and are adapting their products to accommodate these. New innovative and affordable health benefits that provide employees with support to fit around their work commitments and busy lifestyles are now included within many plans.
24/7 virtual GP surgery
While it’s not easy to get an appointment with your doctor, our Virtual GP Surgery enables employees to talk to qualified GPs on the telephone any time of the day or night. Employees can also arrange a webcam consultation between the hours of 8:30am – 6:30pm, Monday to Friday, so they can talk to a GP about their health worries and even show them their symptoms.
Where appropriate, GPs can send consultation notes to people’s own doctors to help them keep accurate medical records and raise an electronic private prescription to help employees start their road to recovery.
Private prescription service
Another great plus point of our Virtual GP Surgery is that the GPs can send a private prescription electronically to a pharmacy, authorised with a digital signature. After checking the prescription, the pharmacist will then contact the employee to arrange payment and for their medicine to be delivered to their home or place of work. This service takes away the inconvenience of travelling to or having to wait around at a pharmacy.
24/7 support helplines
Stress and worries can cause major problems at work. They can distract employees, lower performance and cause sleepless nights and tiredness, increasing the risk of injury in the workplace. However, 24-hour counselling and support helplines can provide employees and their families with easy access to telephone advice, support and guidance from trained counsellors and legal and medical professionals.
The support covers a wide range of issues including health, stress, wellbeing, mental health, legal, financial and family matters.
Sometimes face-to-face counselling sessions can be more beneficial to employees. That’s why we provide our clients with the option to select a plan with an EAP bene_ t which includes up to eight counselling sessions, including cognitive behavioural therapy.
All employers have a duty of care for their staff. Thanks to virtual health services this can now go beyond the world of work and support employees 24/7. Look out for health cash plans that include these benefits as part of their offering and discover how they can help to provide time-pressured employees with peace of mind and support where and when they want it.
Work related Stress, Anxiety and Depression Statistics in Great Britain 2015 – Health & Safety Executive Link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress/stress.pdf