COVID-19 has pushed companies to the brink, with rapid operational changes testing them like never before. The escalated pace to operate in new ways, while ensuring systems’ resilience, is overwhelming to most. While some companies are quickly adapting to this new way of work, for the vast majority, this change has been quite difficult. A transition like this is unchartered territory for both employees and employers, making it vitally important to meet each other where we are and to smooth the waters.

At Pack Health, we’re a digital health coaching company and have been fortunate to have the flexibility to adapt to a totally remote workforce. We were able to fully shift our 90+ employees to remote work within 4 days.  As a company that has always served our members remotely, the transition was sudden but possible. However, we serve a broad range of members across the country and know that our individual experiences do not necessarily mirror those of the members we serve. It was essential for us to not only continue to serve our members as we always have but to truly be able to empathize and understand what they are going through.

In a special COVID-19 report of the Patient Pulse, we recently learned what challenges arose for employees as they shifted to work from home. When asked if they felt prepared to work from home 49% said they felt as though their employer was not prepared to support their move to remote work. Those same people were also 3 times more likely to report that their employer was not providing them with any resources for remote work. Moving forward, 74% said that this pandemic will hopefully impact their employers’ protocols for supporting remote employees in the future. The coronavirus has not just opened, but essentially flung open the windows and doors on the need for location-agnostic support for mental, physical, and social health.  The information was abundant and clear. Now, how can we immediately act as well as prepare our members for the future that lies ahead?

The answer is simple: be there for our members as we always have. We know how essential it is to keep people connected and engaged at all times, not just in times of crisis. However, having now experienced a global crisis that created new fears, vulnerabilities, and anxieties across humanity, we recognize the true necessity of human-to-human social support. The individuals who live alone, are at risk for contraction, or don’t have a great social network have been brought to center stage during the coronavirus: their stories are heartbreaking, compelling, and real. But we have to continue to drive innovation, strategy, and programming, to keep them connected even after the curtains close on COVID-19.

A New World of Healthcare

COVID-19 has contorted the ways that we access, use, and understand health and health information. The ways we interacted with healthcare prior to COVID will likely be different on the other side of the pandemic. Doctors’ offices around the nation have had to find a way to support their patients through telehealth, something they may have had no experience with prior to March 2020. While this was a new concept for a lot of doctors, reports show that it’s been well received and the idea of talking to physicians through the phone is here to stay.

As we experience a shift in the way we consume healthcare, choice is essential. According to a study, healthcare consumers are 84% more likely to choose a healthcare plan that includes some sort of telemedicine. We think about New York City, with over 200K confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the other of thousands upon thousands of people who were stuck in their tiny 400-square-foot apartments for months. Or the person who lives in rural Alabama, who drives typically over an hour round trip for an appointment that couldn’t even happen because doctors’ offices were closed. For these people and everyone else, digital health was the only option. Organizations have had to work hard to make care access a reality for their patients, members, and employees. Everything is clearer in hindsight and the question presents itself: how can we use what we know now to move forward?

Moving Forward

While there hopefully will never be a pandemic like COVID-19 again, this crisis has profoundly changed the way we operate as individuals, organizations, and economies from here on out. It’s possible that we walk away from COVID-19 with a better understanding of the benefits of working remotely and how to support employees and their health remotely. In a recent study, a number of CFO’s were asked if they would keep their employees remote, and one in five said they would keep 20% of their employees remote to cut costs. If COVID-19 taught us anything, it’s that businesses can take the office culture into the home and that employee wellness can (and needs to have the option to) be offered remotely. Individual health isn’t only on the day shift, so why are we limiting support to the in-office 9 to 5? At Pack Health, we’ve learned so many valuable lessons: the power of the human connection to drive motivation in the face of adversity, the resiliency of humans when faced with a challenge without an end-date, and how important it is to stay the course. And finally, that the world is ready for digital health and it’s here to stay.

 

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