Employees flock to virtual health care during pandemic, Willis Towers Watson employee survey finds
While nearly half of employees surveyed are deferring medical care, relatively few report suffering worse health outcomes so far
ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Employee use of virtual health care has surged during the pandemic, with most employees giving the level of care high marks, according to a new
survey by leading global advisory, broking and solutions company, Willis Towers Watson. The survey of nearly 5,000 U.S. employees also found that nearly half of respondents have deferred medical
care since the start of the pandemic, primarily over COVID-19 and money concerns.
Almost half of respondents (47%) have used virtual care services this year — almost three times more than last year (17%). Employees also gave virtual care high marks compared with face-to-face consultations, with eight in 10 (79%) regarding virtual care as equally as good, and one in four (25%) rating it better. Eight in 10 employees (78%) would consider using virtual care in the future.
“Virtual care turned out to be just what the doctor ordered during the pandemic,” said Julie Stone, managing director, Health and Benefits, Willis Towers Watson. “Employers were quick to expand and
educate employees on how to access virtual care, and employees — especially those who were hesitant to access traditional medical care — took advantage of it. While most employees used virtual care
for regular screenings and checkups, a significant number were able to utilize it for diagnosis and treatment of a new illness, chronic conditions and importantly, mental health services.”
Other key findings from the 2020 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey include:
- 44% have deferred medical care during the pandemic with 30% either cancelling or postponing a treatment or appointment; a quarter of employees (25%) said their medical provider has cancelled or
postponed a treatment or appointment.
- More than six in 10 respondents (61%) cited worries over COVID-19 for deferring care; 42% cited money concerns.
- Nearly three in 10 employees (29%) who have deferred care said their health suffered as a result of cancelling an appointment or treatment, while 40% expect their health will suffer.
- One in four employees (26%) said they will increase their health care use when the pandemic ends. Over half (53%) with a chronic condition who deferred care expect to significantly increase
their use of health care services when the pandemic ends.
- One in three employees have used virtual care for regular screening and checkups. One in five have used virtual care for mental health care or treatment for a new illness.