Healthy Business Blog

Nov
18

How virtual health could transform your workplace

Wednesday, 18 November 2020 by the Southern Cross team


Looking after the health and wellbeing of a time-poor and remote workforce is a common challenge for most businesses.

And the answer? Well, it could literally be right in front of you.

Virtual health - where you see a doctor online, rather than going to their practice - is becoming increasingly popular around the world.

So why is virtual health taking-off now? What are the benefits for your team and your business? And how do you go about offering effective virtual health within your business?


The rise of virtual health today

In a recent US survey, 80% of businesses said they expect virtual health will play a significant role in how care is delivered in the future, and over half (52%) were already planning to offer more virtual health options next year.1

In New Zealand, change is happening too with Southern Cross partnering with ProCare to launch the CareHQ app. CareHQ provides Kiwis of all ages with a convenient virtual consultation with a General Practitioner (GP). It’s ideal for those times you can’t see your regular GP, or when you need an appointment now or after-hours. Using smart technology, you and your family can have a face-to-face GP consultation over the internet via a phone, computer or tablet.

Animated image of a woman sitting on her couch using her phone

Covid-19 has been an enormous catalyst, but this shift has only been possible because of advances in video calling and because New Zealanders have become more comfortable integrating digital technology into their daily lives.

51% of Kiwis in our survey say technology helps them look after their health and wellness through online programmes and apps.2
51% of Kiwis in our survey say technology helps them look after their health and wellness through online programmes and apps.2

The benefits for employees

In a recent US survey, 80% of businesses said they expect virtual health will play a significant role in how care is delivered in the future, and over half (52%) were already planning to offer more virtual health options next year. 

Seeing a doctor as soon as you feel unwell can be important for many reasons. It can help you:

  • get a diagnosis faster, so you can feel better sooner
  • reduce the chance of your illness getting worse
  • prevent making others sick if you're contagious.

Surprisingly, only 1 in 10 respondents to the Southern Cross Healthy Futures survey saw a doctor immediately. The main obstacles cited were cost (38%) and availability at a convenient time (18%). These obstacles were even more pronounced among blue-collar workers (45% and 25% respectively).2

In many cases, a virtual health consultation can be a great alternative. With CareHQ, you can see a doctor seven days a week, between 7am and 7pm, 365 days a year. It costs less than a visit to traditional urgent after‑hours care services, and even less again if you book through your My Southern Cross app.

Better still, there is no time or money lost travelling or in waiting rooms. You simply receive an email and a text with a link when the doctor is ready to see you.

This convenience makes it possible to have a GP consultation during your working day. It can also make it easier to manage multiple appointments for a chronic condition, mental health issue or if you need to renew a prescription.

The benefit for businesses

In a recent US survey, 80% of businesses said they expect virtual health will play a significant role in how care is delivered in the future, and over half (52%) were already planning to offer more virtual health options next year. 

Eliminating travel and waiting times can have a direct impact on productivity, but that's only the start.

By encouraging people to see a doctor early, you could also:

  • reduce presenteeism - less working while sick
  • reduce overall absenteeism - get your team member back to 100% sooner
  • minimise further illness - stop unwell employees turning up and making others sick
  • improve your workplace culture by showing you care about employee health.
88% of employees say it's important that the company they work for supports the health and wellbeing of their staff.2
88% of employees say it's important that the company they work for supports the health and wellbeing of their staff.2

Combined with health insurance, promoting virtual health services is a practical way you can demonstrate your commitment to your team, and this overall commitment can have positive business performance outcomes.

Kiwis with subsidised health insurance are more likely to report being proud to work for their employer, recommend their company as a great place to work and feel their contribution is valued.3

In global research, the most engaged teams compared to the least engaged, are more profitable, more productive, and more likely to stay with their current employer.4


How to make adoption of virtual health services a success

Virtual health services can make it easy to provide access to healthcare for employees who cannot easily leave their workplace for external appointments, or who work remotely.

To get the most out of promoting a virtual health service, there are a few things to consider.

Promote the service

Adopting virtual health can take time. The more your team understand the benefits of the service, the more they will value it. To help, you can distribute this link - https://www.carehq.co.nz.

Provide a private space

Nobody wants to have confidential health conversations in front of their colleagues. See if you can create a quiet, dedicated space where people can talk to a doctor online in private. This thoughtfulness can make people more comfortable using virtual health services.

Check accessibility

Some team members may not have a smartphone or available data. Others may work in areas with poor coverage, and others may not be tech-savvy.

Take the time to understand any accessibility challenges your team might face, and address them in practical ways i.e. desktop connections, team mentors.

Next steps to get started

If you're keen to find out more about how virtual health services could benefit your workplace, talk to a Southern Cross Account Manager or Adviser about CareHQ today.


  1. Business Group on Health. 2021 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey. August 2020. Available at: https://www.businessgrouphealth.org/resources/2021-large-employers-health-care-strategy-and-plan-design-survey
  2. The Southern Cross Healthy Futures research study involved desktop and qualitative research with a total of 3068 people from across New Zealand, 2020
  3. Measuring benefits of Health Insurance, Kantar TNS, 2019
  4. The relationship between Engagement at Work and organisational Outcomes, Gallup, 2020

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