How has the delivery of group risk products and services been affected by the Covid-19 lockdown?
The lockdown has forced all parties – brokers, employers, employees and insurers – to operate online, with the result that adoption of digital products, services and business processes has been accelerated at all points of the delivery chain.
How has this switch to digital benefited employers and employees?
The support services that come with group risk products have really come into their own during this period when millions of workers have been forced to stay at home.
One of the most remarkable changes we have seen since the start of the pandemic has been the dramatic increase in take-up of our Help@hand app. We now have over 100,000 employees with access to the benefit, which offers five key services – remote GP, mental health support, physiotherapy, an employee assistance programme and a medical second opinion services. Usage of these services, which the app delivers through a single point of entry, has been widespread.
Which Help@hand support services have been most popular during lockdown?
Perhaps not surprisingly the remote GP service has been the most widely used feature of the app, with 67 per cent of those registered using it. This feature was popular before lockdown, but under the current restrictions remotely delivered healthcare services are a truly valuable benefit for staff dealing with medical emergencies while stuck at home.
Physiotherapy usage has also been high, with 17 per cent of users accessing the service. Even in normal times it can often be difficult for people to get to see a physiotherapist, and even if they do go, people often don’t get round to doing the follow-up exercises afterwards. The app gives a video consultation with a physiotherapist who develops a bespoke treatment plan, and supports the user with reminders to do the recommended exercises.
How has Unum being helping employers support employees’ mental health through the unique psychological challenges of lockdown?
In two ways – both through the mental health support services delivered through the Help@ hand app and through a series of webinars we have been conducting with employers.
Help@hand offers up to eight mental health support consultations a year. We have seen 16 per cent of users take advantage of it during lockdown.
Our employer webinars meanwhile are designed to give organisations guidance on how to support their employees’ mental wellbeing remotely and tips on how to work from home effectively. We have also been providing virtual training on the unique mental health challenges faced by businesses preparing to reopen and welcome staff back into the workplace.
Are employers attitudes to support services changing?
Definitely – and take-up of support services has been particularly strong among small and medium-sized businesses.
Mental health support is a case in point. Many large organisations already have processes and services in place to support the mental health of their workforce, but historically this has not been typical amongst smaller firms. Our experience shows the pandemic has initiated a step change in SMEs taking steps to support their employees’ mental health, in the way bigger companies do.
As a result the employees of small and medium-sized businesses look like being some of the biggest beneficiaries of the forced trend towards digital delivery caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Has the pandemic impacted your ability to deliver services to employers and employees?
Disruption has been minimal and our investment in technology and infrastructure has allowed us to move seamlessly to home working. We have seen high satisfaction rates across our range of online services, and 99 per cent of medical services have been delivered within two hours.
Has this crisis forced you to change the way you interact with brokers?
Yes, although much of the digital capability that we are using today was already there. But take- up has certainly been accelerated by lockdown. We recently moved a number of our processes online, making things simpler for both brokers and customers, included digital medical underwriting and online quotes and policy set up for core products.
The biggest challenge for our business is data flow – from the customer to the broker to the insurer. This crisis presents an opportunity to a transformation of the way the group risk sector operates – I hope we take it.