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Telemedicine to the rescue of the EAP


Alain Thériault

April 3, 2018 07:00

Daniel Martz and Denis Plante

Telemedicine can enable the employer to allocate its costs and have a true resort yard in the first line, where the employee will be referred to an employee assistance program (EAP) if they need it.

This point of view is that of Daniel Martz, founder and president ofEquinoxe LifeCare (EQ Care). This firm is active in Canada, telemedicine and virtual environment. She has just arrived in Quebec.

In an interview to the Journal of insurance, it is said to believe that the employee assistance programs (EAPS) come to maturity. «They consolidate. The large players buy smaller ones. There is more focus and the players compete on cost. This results in a pressure that pushes among others to reduce the fees and the number of sessions offered by the EAP. «

For Mr. Martz, the PAE who do not spend enough time with the patient will see a drop in productivity of the groups that use it. «It is a delicate balancing act. If the EAP is not used to the degree expected, or predicted, you will be more or less profitable. The impact of the PAE decreases also. People will use it even less. «To strive towards this balance, the EAP will have the advantage to merge their traditional approach with an approach that is more technological, according to the president of the EQ Care.

Return on investment

Better equipped, they will be more likely to talk about return on investment and high cost. «It will be attractive for the employer to know that he can invest 5 $ and get 15 $ or 20 $, because the productivity increases. By bringing technology into the equation, you will be able to provide a quality of service similar, or even better, at a lower cost, because you have different approaches, and innovative «, explains Daniel Martz.

In his opinion it is for the employer to better distribute the total share of the amounts that it wishes to make to a benefits program. In the latter, the services of the EAP and telemedicine should co-exist.

Mr. Martz believes that telemedicine can help the EAP. «Telemedicine is done today in a objective of access to care to assist the team of disability management to achieve the return to work of the employee. We want to provide expanded access to care. In regards to psychological care, it is an avenue that we are looking mainly in the form of reference, because the services of an EAP are very different from ours. «

Interfas plunged into it also

EQ Care will be able to assess the mental health problem and make the referral to an EAP. Mr. Martz recognizes that in a number of health problems cohabit aspects physical and psychological. «We can provide a basic treatment with a doctor. We can then redirect the patient to a more complex treatment offered by a psychologist or a psychiatrist. «

President ofInterfas, a firm specializing in the administration of group plans, Denis Plante believes that a greater use of telemedicine may help resolve many of the irritants raised by theAssociation of psychologists of Quebec. Mr Plant is working with EQ Care and know that this avenue to its customers.

Telemedicine could even, according to him, translate into a sort of EAP, which would allow for example to a parent and ask for advice online via video if there is psychological problems in her child. A other might seek help through a mobile application to a problem of alcohol dependency, without having to be present in the waiting room of a psychologist.

For the time being, the main argument of telemedicine, however, remains the possibility to speak quickly to a doctor. «Telemedicine allows us to obtain a appointment with a doctor within half an hour, regardless of where it is located. He can find the problem, fix the problem, or recommend a physical intervention to the need, » says Mr Plant.

He believes that the EAP should go in this direction, allowing, for example, sessions at a distance.

«Some EAPS allow the chat. Accessibility and confidentiality is the key. We would go a step further with a professional relationship with the patient, to the screen. In Interfas, we often use the conference call with our clients. For me, it is in this direction that the EAP should go. It would increase the proximity and reduce costs. «

Lower costs

Such an approach would, according to him, some of the irritants of psychologists towards the EAP, allowing the professional to reduce his office expenses.

«The approach would also have the merit of allowing to lower the costs of disability and reduce presenteeism. The ease-of-access would encourage employees to make more use of such an EAP to an EAP-traditional «, according to the president of Interfas.

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