Remote GP services highly valued by staff despite lockdown lifting
Even with social restrictions continuing to ease, widespread demand for remote GP services shows no sign of letting-up. New figures from Unum show that from January to April this year, Help@hand downloads have more than doubled (up by 148%) compared with the same period in 2020.
Indeed, cases of mental ill health and other stress related issues still remain higher than before the pandemic1. Since July last year, remote appointments for mental health support have increased by 68% as the UK continues to feel the effect of Covid-19 and lockdown. And currently 82% of mental health support appointments requested by employees and their loved ones are for anxiety, stress, low mood, or depression.
However, the mental health of individuals is just one area that businesses should be keeping a close eye on as the potential end to lockdown nears. Physiotherapy appointments to treat shoulder, back and neck symptoms were up 50% between January and April this year – all areas that can be exacerbated by bad posture and working from home in a poor work set up. A recent survey found four in five (81%) of desk-based employees have developed musculoskeletal issues since switching to working from home in lockdown2.
18 months after Unum first launched Help@hand in partnership with Square Health, over 12,000 appointments have been made through the health and wellbeing app to date. In part, this comes as employees and businesses continue to embrace technology to fast-track their access to remote medical services while some NHS facilities begin to manage the backlog of appointments created due to the pandemic last year.
The record levels of signup to our Help@hand app so far this year tells us two things. Firstly, it proves the value of remote GP services amid the pandemic, and secondly that there are some areas to watch including mental health, musculoskeletal and the impact of long-covid ahead of any phased return to offices. By partnering with Square Health, we’re able to provide round-the-clock access to UK GPs while NHS services have been and in some areas are still strained. The future of workplace health and wellbeing is not yet clear especially while we transition into hybrid working. However, ensuring we are able to support the changing needs of staff is critical – particularly when navigating the recovery from last year”.
Square Health founder, Dr Bippon Vinayak, commented: “COVID has highlighted the value of digital solutions for the delivery of healthcare. The high level of adoption and overwhelming success of the Help@hand service is due to its ease of access and availability at the point of need – day or night. Customers value the ability to access key healthcare services from the convenience and privacy of their home and many will see this as their preferred route to everyday healthcare in the post-pandemic era.”
Help@hand offers access to remote GPs 24/7, plus mental health support, physiotherapy, medical second opinions and a life, money, and wellbeing support Employee Assistance Programme all via one easy-to-use app. The service is available at no cost to Income Protection policyholders, as well as Critical Illness and Life Insurance policyholders with 250 or fewer employees. When surveyed, 9 out of 10 people using the app said that their health professional fully dealt with their concerns during the consultation*, revealing Help@hand to clearly be an effective tool for managing employees’ health and wellbeing.
*Average score of 6.2 out of 7 when 1369 users between Jan 2021 – March 2021 were asked “To what extent do you agree with the following statement: My Help@hand healthcare professional dealt fully with my concerns today.”
1 Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) working paper on the mental health effects of the first two months of lockdown and social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK, pg 2 https://www.ifs.org.uk/uploads/WP202016-Covid-and-mental-health.pdf
2 Research from charity, Versus Arthritis conducted by Opinium in September 2020: https://www.versusarthritis.org/news/2020/september/working-from-home-has-left-me-with-musculoskeletal-pain-that-feels-like-i-ve-been-hit-by-a-truck/
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