Coronavirus crisis accelerating virtual health care, focus on mental health

The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating several health care trends in 2021, including the growth of virtual care and a focus on mental and emotional well-being, according to the Business Group on Health.

The Washington-headquartered organization predicts the rapid expansion and availability of virtual care in 2020 will likely lead to increased options, including weight management, care management for chronic conditions, prenatal care and musculoskeletal care management/physical therapy. In addition, more attention will be given to the evaluation of the quality, outcomes, effectiveness, patient experience and cost of virtual-care options and innovations, as well as the appropriateness of virtual versus in-person care for specific services, said Ellen Kelsay, president and CEO of the Business Group on Health, in a press release.

Read: Most Canadians say employer should offer virtual health care: survey

With an increased focus on mental-health issues during the coronavirus pandemic, she said employers will continue to integrate tools such as virtual care, employee assistance programs and mental-health benefits to assist employees. The pandemic has also caused a shift in employees’ well-being needs as employees contend with remote-working conditions and decreased social connections, requiring ongoing employer flexibility.

And with the pandemic drawing attention to disparities in care as a result of race, ethnicity and geography, Kelsay said the health care ecosystem, including providers, suppliers and payers, will have to increase their efforts to address health equity while mitigating the harmful effects of social determinants of health.

Read: Is private and public health care ready for a mental-health tsunami?