Employers Reassess Virtual Care Potential Post-Pandemic


During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers anticipated a significant impact on healthcare delivery nationwide through virtual care. Yet, as the pandemic subsided, their confidence in this widespread transformation diminished, as indicated by a recent survey conducted by the Business Group on Health. This annual study, which gathered input from 152 large corporations representing 19 million employees between June 1 and July 18, revealed changing perspectives.

In 2019, slightly more than half (52%) of major employers believed virtual services would revolutionize care delivery. The pandemic triggered a significant shift in this perception, with the figures rising to 80% in 2020 and further to 85% in 2021. Subsequently, the numbers declined, reaching 74% in 2022 and then falling to 65% this year.

The survey identified various concerns among employers regarding virtual care. A significant majority (70%) worried about the separation of these platforms from other care facilities, potentially impeding coordination for patients. Additionally, 54% expressed apprehension about the quality of care provided by virtual healthcare providers.

Although many concerns mirrored those from the previous year’s survey, 2023 saw a notable increase in the proportion of employers (43%) finding the market saturated with solutions, up from 26% in 2022.

Brenna Shebel, Vice President of the Business Group, acknowledged that the decline in optimism wasn’t surprising given the circumstances. She emphasized that poor coordination could lead to negative outcomes for patients, raising questions about the impact on care quality and overall healthcare experiences.

Employers also aimed to streamline vendor partnerships for better alignment. The survey revealed that 38% of employers planned to alter their contracted vendors, extending beyond health plans or pharmacy benefit managers. Transparent insight into costs and outcomes was a key employer demand, with consolidation and simplification of the experience enabling them to extract greater value from their chosen partners.

While employers initially anticipated virtual care’s substantial influence during the pandemic, their confidence in this transformation has diminished as the health crisis has subsided, according to an insight. Concerns regarding coordination, care quality, and market saturation have led employers to reevaluate their expectations. Streamlining vendor partnerships and seeking transparency in costs and outcomes are becoming focal points for these employers seeking greater value.