Our team of data scientists and clinicians sat down to share the 2021 employee health trends they identified from Springbuk’s aggregate health benefits data of nearly 4,000 employer customers. Below are some highlights from their conversation.
Explosive Growth of Telemedicine
“Our research found a huge increase in the use of telemedicine services – actually about a 12-fold jump. And this occurred across all age groups, notably, older age groups that have long been viewed as potentially reluctant to embrace telemedicine saw a big increase. These older patients are at higher risk if they contract COVID-19, and reducing potential exposure has been a huge benefit for them with telemedicine.” - Janet Young, MD
"Looking at the top two reasons each year for visits via telemedicine, we saw a large shift from the prior year. In 2019, the top diagnostic category was for respiratory disorders followed by mental health. In 2020, we saw mental health shift to the top diagnostic category, accounting for over 44% of all visits." - Jennifer Jones, Sr. Director of Health Strategy
Swings in Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Swings in Mental Health and Substance Abuse“Interestingly, overall, we've seen a decrease in the rate at which children and adolescents have been seen for mental health issues since the start of the pandemic. We know that among mental health conditions, we considered ADHD and conduct disorders to make up a higher percentage of care delivered in children compared to adults. Data shows that ADHD makes up a high percentage of mental health encounters for boys, while girls are more likely to have encounters for adjustment disorders, anxiety, or depression.” - Janet Young, MD
In regards to elective surgeries, it’s important to look for opportunities that shift the site of service to outpatient facilities. Prioritize communication and education around second opinion services, or alternatives to surgery to allow members to evaluate the overall treatment options and what is really best for them and for their conditions.
With ER services, we want to ensure the promotion of alternatives to ER, especially around low acuity and non-emergent conditions. Highlight positive experiences that members have had with these alternative services and share those stories to encourage others to use those types of outlets or other modes to treat those specific types of conditions.
Regarding telemedicine - continue to promote the use of services in relation to a variety of conditions such as ER. There’s a lot more promise around the overall management of chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes via telemedicine.
When thinking about mental health, evaluate and understand the micro-trends within the subsets of your population. This will help ensure that you have resources to address the specific needs within those groups.