Employers Emphasizing Comprehensive Virtual Care

More organizations are seeking providers with whole-person telehealth offerings. Learn how this trend can impact health care costs, vendor management and employee access.

More organizations are seeking providers with whole-person telehealth offerings. Learn how this trend can impact health care costs, vendor management and employee access.


Virtual health care continues to demonstrate its value to employees, employers and providers. In turn, organizations are increasing their telehealth investments. But as virtual care benefits grow, so can the number of vendors.

That increase in third parties doesn’t always fit what employers want, notes the HR news source Human Resources Director (HRD). Instead of managing multiple telehealth vendors, employers are searching for virtual care providers with comprehensive, whole-person offerings.

Investments in virtual care

With virtual care becoming mainstream, employers are turning their focus to improving telehealth benefits. According to HRD:

  • 21% of organizations have expanded their virtual care offerings in the past 18 to 24 months.
  • 77% expect to increase investments in virtual care over the next three years.
  • 40% plan to boost virtual mental health benefits over the next three years.
  • 75% want to expand virtual mental health resources for children and caregivers.

Investments in virtual care can lower health plan costs, reports the American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC). Telehealth can also help employers reduce absenteeism and presenteeism, and increase productivity, job satisfaction and retention.

Virtual care also provides benefits to employees, including:

  • Charging less expensive flat fees than in-office providers
  • Regularly resolving patient needs with one visit (A study found a 13.6% reduction in outpatient visits within 30 days of a virtual visit, reports Fierce Healthcare.)
  • Increasing access and affordability for mental and behavioral health issues
  • Increasing provider efficiency and reducing patient wait times
  • Minimizing time away from work by eliminating travel and wait time
  • Increasing access for employees with geographic and transportation challenges
  • Improving the diversity of providers available
  • Reducing the number of visits to in-person offices, urgent care centers and emergency rooms

The last point creates significant savings for health plans. Avoiding unnecessary emergency room treatment can save health plans between $300 and $1,500 per visit, reports the human resources association SHRM.

Whole-person virtual care

The list of virtual care benefits above can lead to a list of vendors to manage. Instead, HRD says organizations are increasingly seeking a single provider offering a wide range of virtual care benefits. About 55% of organizations have implemented a whole-person virtual care program, reports HRD. This percentage is up from 35% in 2021.

In addition to reducing vendor management for employers, a single point of contact can improve employee access and the patient experience.

Whole-person virtual care, also known as high-touch care, helps employees with all aspects of health care. A single provider can deliver virtual care support customized to employee needs. This solution includes a user-friendly interface and easy access to various medical resources and providers.

Whole-person virtual care services may include:

  • Primary care
  • Mental and behavioral health services
  • Prescription medications
  • Skin and musculoskeletal health care
  • Chronic condition management
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Specialty care and referrals
  • Integration with follow-up and in-person care
  • Nurse hotlines
  • Urgent care and emergency resources

The recent employee interest in weight-loss drugs can also play into the strengths of telemedicine. According to HRD, 83% of employers say virtual care can help employees address diabetes, weight loss, clinically appropriate prescriptions and lifestyle management.

Exploring your options

The increased services and availability of whole-person virtual care make it easier for employees to proactively seek health care providers on their schedules. Employees also benefit from reduced wait times and, often, reduced costs. AJMC reports 65% of patients had lower costs with virtual care providers than with in-person providers.

Employees who use virtual services are less likely to delay care due to cost or the inconvenience of taking time away from work or caregiving responsibilities. This higher usage can increase long-term savings for employees and employers by catching and addressing health challenges earlier.

For more information on virtual care providers, talk to your insurance broker or benefits adviser. They can help you examine telemedicine models, services and costs. They can also help you evaluate vendors’ capability to provide multiple resources and integrate digital services with in-person care.

This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.