Great-West Life Assurance Co. has partnered with digital health-care provider Dialogue to offer its virtual health-care platform as part of its group benefits plans.

The platform, which can be accessed through a mobile app or website, is open to employers in Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec. The insurer says the impetus for the pilot was the need to save employees’ time, but also to help employers provide diverse benefits and support wellness and productivity for their workers.

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The platform allows employees of participating group benefits plans to chat with a registered nurse or see a physician via secure video consultation. Medical practitioners are available seven days a week to make diagnoses, provide advice, make referrals and write prescriptions. 

“The purpose or one of the problems that we’re trying to solve is to put time back in the hands of plan members, and to help improve health outcomes to keep employees in the workforce,” says Brad Fedorchuk, senior vice-president of group customer experience and marketing at Great-West Life.

People spend a lot of time going into a health-care practitioner’s office, he adds, with studies suggesting up to 70 per cent of doctors’ visits can be handled virtually. “And, in fact, Dialogue is seeing that experience directly. So about 70 per cent of their consultations are resolved digitally, and then other cases they need to make a referral,” says Fedorchuk.

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Gatineau, Que.-based PPTA Insurance Advisors has been using the platform since September.

“It promotes good health with your employees and . . . it showed how much we cared,” says Lise Trahan, senior partner and employee benefits specialist at the company. She also notes the program helps to reduce absenteeism and presenteeism.

Another reason for bringing in the program, according to Trahan, was to help control the company’s group insurance premiums, as past attempts to do so had fallen short. 

Read: Assessing the impact of online therapy as digital health tools proliferate

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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