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The rise of digital healthcare

As cases are on the rise again, it looks like the new normal is here to stay. Healthcare is one of many sectors which has seen unprecedented change this year, identifying the need for new methods of communication, support and treatment. Whilst Coronavirus demands the immediate attention and prioritisation of the government and the NHS, it’s important that other health issues and mental health aren’t overlooked.

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The NHS predicts that the waiting list for mental health services could hit 10 million this year, doubling since summer 2020.[1] According to the BBC, challenges include backlog of cases, maintaining social distancing and staffing. Digital health services address these challenges and enable people to seek support and treatment from the safety and convenience of their own homes whilst easing the pressure on the NHS – a win-win situation.

Reflecting this demand, the UK has seen an increase in the usage of digital health services such as virtual GP services, mental health apps and online counselling. Health and wellbeing service provider, Health Assured, have seen a 461% increase in video counselling and a 38% increase in virtual GP appointments.[2] Mental wellbeing app, Thrive, has seen a 17% increase in sign-ups since the start of the pandemic, reinforcing the need for mental health support.[3]

The nation-wide rise of poor mental health and increased usage across digital health and wellbeing services highlights the ongoing need for support of this kind. Our CEO, Courtney Marsh commented: “The pandemic is taking its toll on body and mind and, unfortunately, worse is probably yet to come as furloughing ends and redundancies increase. Not only that, but mass working from home is creating its own issues for many - especially for women and the younger generation - in terms of loneliness and the negative impacts of that on wellbeing and productivity.”

Although virtual services are available to support businesses, the reality is many employers simply don’t have the budget to invest in employee wellbeing due to the financial impact of Coronavirus. The good news is there are lots of options with different levels of support, including employee-paid plans. Voluntary health cash plans are becoming an increasingly popular option, as they allow businesses to offer health and wellbeing packages to their employees without the financial pressure.

 

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52984742

[2] Health Assured Insights, 2020

[3] Thrive Insights, 2020

 

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