The rise of telemedicine and iCBT

The rise of telemedicine and iCBT

Digital technology has transformed the way we bank, drive, shop, travel and communicate. It’s improved our personal safety and made our lives more convenient. But when it comes to the health care industry, digital access isn’t the norm – at least not yet.

The potential of telemedicine

Today, most medical consultations take place in person at a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital. This means patients are limited to specific practitioners by geographic location. As a result, an increasing number of patients are beginning to consult health care service providers over the Internet, using their smartphones or computers. It’s a growing field called telemedicine.

Much like the rapid rise of online shopping, home sharing and video streaming, health care consumers also crave on-demand convenience. A recent study by the Canadian Medical Association found that 69% of respondents said they’d use virtual consultations with physicians for some of their appointments, if the option were available. Due to the public nature of health care in Canada, growth in this market has not kept up with the U.S. or Europe, but it has huge potential.

In the future, telemedicine may bring unprecedented access for Canadian patients, including the ability to:

  • Get immediate consultation, without sitting in waiting rooms
  • Connect with service providers from home, the office or on vacation
  • Reduce barriers to access for the elderly, people living in remote communities or those with mental health challenges, all of whom find the logistics of attending appointments difficult
  • Offer a more comforting environment to those who are embarrassed to describe specific conditions face-to-face

iCBT now an eligible expense for plan members

We recognize the benefits that digital health care offers to you and your employees. As of January, we’re now one of the first group benefits providers to offer Internet-based Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (iCBT) as an eligible expense. Plan members whose paramedical coverage includes psychologists can claim iCBT expenses under their Extended Health Care plan. This provides members with an alternative means to access therapist support.

Plan members can access iCBT through a link on Benefits Now® for Plan Members. There, they can learn how the program works, how to enrol and how much it costs. Once enrolled, plan members work through a series of modules under the guidance of a therapist.

iCBT expenses are included under the paramedical practitioner maximum for psychologists.

For more information, contact the Group Client Service Centre or your Group Benefits Advisor.