Virtual First Benefits: A Competitive Advantage
By: Keith Algozzine
As featured in Employee Benefit Plan Review, February 2023
In 2021, over 40 million Americans voluntarily left their job, spawning the term “the Great Resignation,” which would later be renamed into the “Great Reshuffle.” Unfortunately, for many companies, the trend of individuals leaving their job in the search of better opportunities did not end in 2021. In fact, it continued well into 2022. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, in the first nine months of 2022, an average of 4 million people left their job every month.
If this trend continued, 2022 would not only have matched the previous year’s attrition levels but would have surpassed it by millions. The challenge of not only retaining talent but attempting to attain new talent is being seen across all business sectors and companies of various shapes and sizes. Human resources leaders are grappling with accelerated change with many internal and external market challenges. Businesses cannot function optimally without adequately meeting their staffing needs. Moreover, understaffed businesses risk overburdening their remaining workers, which can often cause additional churn and create a dangerous cycle. Even workers content with their positions are drawn to more lucrative opportunities, further exacerbating the turnover trend.
According to surveys by the Society for Human Resource Management, more than half of U.S. workers say they have had direct colleagues voluntarily leave their organization within the past six months, encouraging many more to reconsider their career options. The economy has witnessed one of the greatest workplace shifts seen in generations. Right now, for the first time, there are four generations all working side by side,2 all with varying levels of desires and needs in terms of the benefits and perks that they expect from their employer.
The pandemic prompted people to reassess their priorities, whether that’s greater flexibility in where work can be done, seeking out higher pay, or richer benefits for not only themselves but their families. And one of the most critical areas that have seen the most change is the way that employers handle their health benefit offerings. Living in the modern age has brought new avenues of patients seeking care. One of those changes is Mobile Integrated Health solutions, or MIH solutions, which can be accessed via a digital front door.
Urgent Needs Drive Innovation
A growing approach adopted by employers to help stem the labor exodus is providing workers with enhanced perks and rich benefits packages, including those that provide immediate and affordable access to on-demand virtual healthcare. Virtual care can be a valuable asset to the employer – helping to attract and retain top talent, increase productivity, and lower healthcare costs. It is also a huge benefit to employees – saving time commuting to and from a doctor’s office, avoiding the hassle of scheduling appointments, and providing comprehensive care through a single, streamlined digital entry point to access primary care, urgent care, care for emergencies, mental health care, and more.
Employees get access to a team of board-certified providers that is only a phone call or click away. The provider team can even facilitate care in the home when needed for added support or convenience. Catalyzed by the global pandemic, virtual care emerged as the new normal, much more than a fleeting trend. It also became a necessity to ensure public health standards were maintained while also offering convenience and speed to accessing care. Its acceptance and popularity continue to grow. According to the COVID-19 Health Care Coalition Telehealth Workgroup, 67% of patients3 experienced reduced costs through telehealth compared to in-office physician visits. Furthermore, 78% of patients4 reported feeling their telehealth visit addressed concerns and immediate needs. Below are a few of the expected benefits of virtual care delivery:
Improved access to care: Virtual care offers an immediate, easy-to-access avenue for patients to connect to their providers over the phone or from any device. Primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, mental health providers, and other clinicians are available on-demand to meet their needs. Virtual care is an additional point of access employees can use to schedule and receive needed care at any point during their day from any place.
Improved quality: Virtual care expands the care experience beyond traditional in-office appointments. Patients get personalized attention from providers, which fosters trust and helps to empower patients to take ownership of their personal health goals. It provides increased access, making it easier for many to get preventative care or address issues early on, preventing future, potentially more acute and more costly issues later. Virtual care can also enable continuity of care with future virtual appointments and with coordination with any other providers. This results in improved outcomes, which can translate to healthier, often happier, and more loyal employees.
Cost savings: By providing access to virtual care, patient concerns can be addressed remotely, often avoiding more costly care settings like urgent care or the emergency room. Access to virtual care services, including scheduled appointments, can reduce straining other areas of the healthcare system. MIH solutions are not just strictly limited to virtual interactions, should a patient need physical assistance or monitoring, MIH solutions can assist in the dispatch of local emergency medical services teams to the patient. From there, if the patient is determined to need treatment from an urgent care facility or an emergency department, the dispatched unit can be utilized for transportation. From there, mobile integrated health solutions can then be leveraged in preparing the facility for the patient’s arrival. This seamless and streamlined process aids in reducing the amount of time spent by the patient in a waiting room while also lowering the overall cost of care across the healthcare ecosystem.
Utilizing MIH Solutions to Close Gaps in Post Care
Medicare estimated $26 billion is spent on patient readmissions due to post-discharge complications annually. MIH is also an important tool to assist these discharged patients in staying connected and engaged with their healthcare provider across their entire healthcare journey. By staying connected with patients, especially within the 48 hours post-discharge, healthcare providers can stay in sync with patients, and once again, should there be a need for physical assistance, a local EMS unit can assist both provider and patient.
Employee Engagement in Wellness and Health
The ability for employees to address physical and mental health concerns immediately helps to reduce everyday stresses, improve health, and enable employees to be present and fully engaged at work. Studies show that employees with good health are likelier and perform well in the workplace. Digital health is transforming the way businesses and employees access healthcare services. According to a recent study, 68% of employers are planning to dust off their benefits offerings and are planning to devote resources to digital health solutions over the next five years. This will not only serve their employees but help their bottom lines amid a looming recession.
Keith Algozzine is co-founder and chief executive officer of UCM Digital Health. He represents UCM Digital Health on the American Telemedicine Association Accreditation Advisory Board and serves as an advisor to the Clinical Practice Guidelines Committees dealing with telemedicine considerations for urgent and emergency care.
Copyright © 2023 CCH Incorporated. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted from Employee Benefit Plan Review, February 2023, Volume 77,
Number 2, pages 5–6, with permission from Wolters Kluwer, New York, NY,