Lincoln Leads

Staying healthy when care has gone virtual

July 23, 2020 Lincoln Financial Group Season 1 Episode 2
Lincoln Leads
Staying healthy when care has gone virtual
Chapters
Lincoln Leads
Staying healthy when care has gone virtual
Jul 23, 2020 Season 1 Episode 2
Lincoln Financial Group

2020 has driven a more virtual world for everyone – especially employees when it comes to taking care of everyday tasks such as helping children with school, ordering groceries or addressing health care needs. Employers can play a vital role in making sure employees are still taking care of their health even though it may mean using virtual tools. In this episode we’ll discuss the importance of continuing to keep up with health care needs and how employers can help employees access virtual tools to maintain a healthy workforce. 

Sources:

  1. The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Outpatient Visits: Practices Are Adapting to the New Normal
  2. Companies Seek to Boost Low Usage of Employee Assistance Programs
  3. “Are You Wearing Your White Coat?”  Telemedicine in the Time of Pandemic
  4. Nearly Half Of Americans Delayed Medical Care Due To Pandemic
  5. Measuring Health-Related Productivity Loss
  6. Telemental Health Care, an Effective Alternative to Conventional Mental Care: a Systematic Review
  7. Keeping the Coronavirus from Infecting Health-Care Workers


LCN-3163780-071520
© 2020 Lincoln National Corporation. All rights reserved.

Show Notes Transcript

2020 has driven a more virtual world for everyone – especially employees when it comes to taking care of everyday tasks such as helping children with school, ordering groceries or addressing health care needs. Employers can play a vital role in making sure employees are still taking care of their health even though it may mean using virtual tools. In this episode we’ll discuss the importance of continuing to keep up with health care needs and how employers can help employees access virtual tools to maintain a healthy workforce. 

Sources:

  1. The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Outpatient Visits: Practices Are Adapting to the New Normal
  2. Companies Seek to Boost Low Usage of Employee Assistance Programs
  3. “Are You Wearing Your White Coat?”  Telemedicine in the Time of Pandemic
  4. Nearly Half Of Americans Delayed Medical Care Due To Pandemic
  5. Measuring Health-Related Productivity Loss
  6. Telemental Health Care, an Effective Alternative to Conventional Mental Care: a Systematic Review
  7. Keeping the Coronavirus from Infecting Health-Care Workers


LCN-3163780-071520
© 2020 Lincoln National Corporation. All rights reserved.

Rana Czellecz:

Hi everyone. This is Rana Czellecz assistant marketing director at Lincoln Financial Group. In this episode of Lincoln Leads, we'll focus on how 2020 has shifted our world in many ways, much of which has created a more virtual day-to-day life for many employees. Employees who are now working from home or could still be in a factory or business location are now using technology much more in ways such as helping children with online schooling, managing healthcare virtually and performing more tasks on a computer. Today we're joined by Dr. Glenn Pransky associate professor at the university of Massachusetts medical school and scientific advisor for Lincoln Financial Group and Dr. David Berube, vice president and chief medical officer for Lincoln Financial Group. As we discuss the importance of maintaining good health in a virtual world and how employers can help their employees access virtual tools to maintain a healthy workforce. Dr. Berube, would you like to start?

Dr. David Berube:

Thank you, Rana. And it's a pleasure to be with you both Rana and Dr. Pransky. So Dr. Pransky, let's start with discussing what is happening in healthcare today. Why is the topic of virtual care so important right now?

Dr. Glenn Pransky:

Thanks Dr. Berube, it's a pleasure to join you too . Why is this topic so important right now? Well, it's because so much of our healthcare has left the doctor's office in transition to a computer screen. By mid-March in person visits to primary care practices had dropped 70% or more across the country. Some of this is reversed, but it's now estimated that telemedicine visits have gone from less than 1% of all doctor's visits last year to over 10% now. You know, I think the numbers are much higher in behavioral health care . Maybe as much as half of what used to be in person mental health visits have now changed to virtual visits. However, unfortunately, usage of employee assistance programs is still low, only about 10% of employees per year use them. So Dr. Berube, how effective is virtual care?

Dr. David Berube:

Well, the scientific evidence has shown that virtual care can be very effective in the initial stages of diagnosing an illness. And even for some problems that require some examination such as skin conditions. Of course, there needs to be follow-up with necessary testing and in-person evaluations in many cases. And with mental health conditions, for example, the right type of evaluation and treatment can be effective virtually for many, many situations, although not necessarily for everyone, but for many people. And many other things have gone virtual as you know, shopping education, transactional activities like banking and insurance, and many types of work activities, many folks that work at home at the moment, some things have transitioned well, but you know , others have been more challenging. For example, many people have learned how to cut their own hair by watching videos and others have delayed cutting their hair and put on hold many, many things.

Dr. Glenn Pransky:

Quite true, many have also delayed getting healthcare , which can be very dangerous. We doctors often talk about how patients in with their own diagnoses after doing their own online research. And we have to educate them that neither they, nor their computer went to medical school. I'm also concerned because studies show that the COVID epidemic is bad for many people's physical, as well as mental health. 40% of Americans now have significant mental health concerns and stress due to COVID.

Dr. David Berube:

Absolutely, you know, that's a key important problem that we need to address, even with the availability of virtual care for physical and mental health conditions over 50% of Americans are delaying medical and dental care and ignoring symptoms. This is a major concern for employers as you know, delayed care and missed evaluations and treatment can lead to worse health. And that in turn translates to more absenteeism, lower productivity and a significant challenge for the workforce.

Dr. Glenn Pransky:

So David, what can we recommend to employers? How can they counter these worrisome trends?

Dr. David Berube:

Well, first and foremost, education is important reminding employees that delaying care is never a good idea. It can result, you know , as I said in more severe illness, the need for more extensive treatment can also occur if they're not treated initially well and you know, worse outcomes. And this is true, both for physical and mental health conditions, as well.

Dr. Glenn Pransky:

But many are afraid to go to a doctor's office and don't think they have any other option, but to turn up in person yet their doctor may not be seeing patients in person at all.

Dr. David Berube:

Absolutely. That's why educating employees about telemedicine options is key. Employers can start actually by having each of their healthcare vendors, health plans, employee assistance program providers and others share information with employees about how easy it is to access qualified telehealth resources. Remember that continuity of care is really important. So ideally employees can have a visit with a provider from their own doctor's practice or their own physician network. And if they have to see a new doctor, make sure that the medical records are shared between the providers

Dr. Glenn Pransky:

We've also advocated for regular COVID related communications from senior management to reassure employees about their safety. Hearing directly from leadership is important. If senior management and others can also talk at the same time about their own positive technology experiences with tele-health , that can certainly encourage employees to use these services. And I have some suggestions on how to make the most of these visits, which employers could also share. First, it's important to find a private place where you won't be disturbed, good lighting, and to test your audio and video connection with the doctor's office in advance. And during the visit, it's a good idea to minimize distractions and have your questions written down in advance so nothing is missed. I find that these suggestions are especially helpful with people who are not used to this type of interaction.

Dr. David Berube:

That's excellent advice. And, you know, telemental health is a special category of telemedicine as it can be very effective and has been in place for a much longer time actually than for other specialties. Many telemental health providers are quite used to this form of patient interaction and they are skilled at putting their patients at ease diagnosing problems and managing effective treatment. EAP providers are actually the ones who are most used to telemedicine consultations in the clinical realm, but , but there are others.

Dr. Glenn Pransky:

Yes, that's a very good point. There may also be other services that employees can access that can help with health related issues, health coaches, disease management specialists, financial counselors, and others. But not every problem is going to be solved by a telemedicine visit. And we worry that people will avoid going into a doctor's office when they really need to do so. Fortunately, recent studies show that getting COVID-19 from a doctor's visit is a very rare event. Almost all doctor's offices are now taking effective measures to separate COVID patients from everyone else.

Dr. David Berube:

Exactly. And before we wrap up, I'd like to note that there are many things employers can do to ensure the health of their employees and the COVID-19 virtual era at www.lfg.com. There's a COVID-19 resources link with many useful items, including a podcast on how communication planning and other strategies can help make a big difference. And also the CDC and other expert organizations are excellent resources as well. So dr. Pransky and Rana, thank you for joining me today in this conversation about a very current and important topic. I hope that we've provided suggestions that employers can use to ensure their workforce stays healthy and gets the care they need

Dr. Glenn Pransky:

It's a pleasure to join you as well on this important topic.

Rana Czellecz:

Dr. Berube, Dr. Pransky. Thank you for engaging in such a meaningful and timely discussion. To everyone listening, thank you for joining us. We will continue to cover topics that help employers and their employees navigate through this new environment. So be sure to subscribe to Lincoln Leads on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Disclosures:

Please remember that our content is advisory only. The information contained in this podcast is for general use and is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney or your human resource professional. Lincoln Financial Group is the marketing name for Lincoln National Corporation and its affiliates, the Lincoln National Life Insurance company, Fort Wayne, Indiana Lincoln Life and Annuity company of New York, Syracuse, New York and Lincoln Life Assurance, company of Boston Dover, New Hampshire, the Lincoln National Life Insurance company does not solicit business in New York, nor is it licensed to do so. Affiliates are separately responsible for their own financial and contractual obligations.