Advocating for the inclusion of virtual care in employee benefits programs, TELUS Health has published a pair of reports, entitled The future of virtual healthcare: Considerations for employers. In the industry report and the companion report for public sector employers as well, they say there is a growing number of employers who agree that virtual care should be a standard group benefits offering – in 2021, 51 per cent of employers surveyed by the firm said this. In 2022 that number grew to 62 per cent.

“This indicates that plan sponsors are more confident in their organization’s virtual care offerings, and those that chose to include them in their benefits packages are standing by that decision now that they understand the value that virtual care brings,” they write.

Between 2021 and 2022, the number of people who had virtual care coverage in their benefits package has increased by nine per cent, while the number of those who expect virtual health care to be part of their benefits has increased by seven per cent. When looking at who is and isn’t accessing virtual care, they say younger employees, those with complex support needs, caregivers and those with mental health conditions were the most likely to access virtual support. Once people have used the services, they add, “research shows they become 81 per cent more likely to continue using them.” 

The report also looks at awareness about virtual pharmacies and how to promote a culture of well-being. 

Interestingly, the public sector was even further ahead of the private sector in accepting the need for virtual care: “The Canadian public sector and crown corporations have a cutting-edge view of virtual care, with 92 per cent agreeing it should be a standard component of group benefits, compared to 86 per cent of private sector employers,” they write. “Likewise, 94 per cent of public sector employers say employee assistance programs should include virtual care, which is higher than the 81 per cent of employers who hold this view in the private sector.”