21 Dec The Future of EAP
The world is changing, and the future of many industries, including the future of EAPs, are dependent on companies changing along with it in order to survive and prosper. The evolution of EAPs largely coincides with progress in both science and technology. However, other events, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, can expedite change. According to a survey done in March by the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, “The emotional impact of COVID-19 is also being addressed as 53% of employers are providing special programs for their workforce.” One can assume this number has only increased as the pandemic has raged globally now for over a year. How are EAPs changing as a result of these factors? We’ll discuss below how science, technology, and other major events impact the future of EAPs.
The emotional impact of COVID-19 is also being addressed as 53% of employers are providing special programs for their workforce.
Advances in comprehending mental health issues along with a societal reduction around associated stigmas will lead to an increase in EAP utilization by employees. An abstract from the National Institutes of Health states “Most EAP utilization initiatives fail to address the impact of stigma, misunderstandings about mental illness and the reluctance of many employees to seek counseling as an option for better management of stress, work-life balance and overall mental wellness.” Overcoming the impact of stigma and misunderstandings about mental illness can increase utilization which can greatly increase ROI, as we discuss here. The current COVID-19 pandemic has not only shone a light on mental illness in the workforce, but has encouraged increased EAP utilization as employers, many of whom were already offering EAP services, have begun to take extra measures to encourage employees to take advantage of their EAP. Combating increased employee stress, anxiety, and depression during this pandemic has become a priority for many companies, but in-person assistance has been largely unavailable, which leads us to the investment in technology to solve these problems.
The future of EAPs is certainly tied to technological advancement as much as it is scientific study. Technological solutions, such as telemedicine, have emerged in recent years as our world has become more interconnected. Remote access to a medical or mental health professional had been gaining steam before the pandemic, but has since highlighted its broader usefulness during this trying time. Telemedicine is just one example, but as technology, science, and health converge more and more, we can expect the future of EAPs to become more holistic. What began as a response to alcoholism in the workplace is continually growing to encompass comprehensive health assistance, counseling, legal services, financial services, broader work-life solutions, and more!
Here are just some of the technologies EAPs use or may use in the future:
- Virtual Assistants
- Mobile Applications
- Artificial Intelligence
- Virtual Reality
Telemedicine is simply medical professionals diagnosing and treating patients remotely, using technology such as computers, tablets, or smartphones. Telemedicine has actually been around for decades, but has seen much more widespread use in recent years, and a boom in 2020. According to medicaleconomics.com, “In the early months of COVID-19’s rapid spread across the US, 71% of patients had considered telemedicine while half had already gone through with a virtual appointment”, and “83% of patients expect to use telemedicine after the pandemic resolves.”
Virtual assistants are people who provide administrative support services remotely. With advances in AI, some virtual assistants are now truly virtual, in that they are programs rather than people. EAPs may use these to engage users over a period of time, learning more about the employee or educating them about an aspect of an EAP’s offerings.
Mobile application is a catch-all term that refers to any application that runs on a mobile device. They can range from productivity apps, to calendars, email, messaging, games, and more. Apps have become a part of our daily lives, and the future of EAPs will see more integration of apps that use virtual assistants, AI, and more to provide a more holistic employee assistance offering.
Artificial intelligence, or AI, when used in conjunction with other pieces of technology, can learn behavior and attempt to predict needs to proactively engage employees. While most help offered by EAPs is currently reactive, the future of EAPs may be much more proactive.
Virtual reality, or VR, is already used in many healthcare industries, both for training and treatment. VR is being used in mental health, psychological therapy, and even pain management and physical therapy applications.
Care Plus Solutions is in a unique position because we’ve been here since the beginning. A lot has changed over the years, but our commitment to delivering personal, quality services to those in need has never wavered. Whatever changes in science and technology that may come, we believe that caring about people remains the core of our industry. That’s why we’re always there when you need us, so your team is always at their best.
Care Plus Solutions is America’s first EAP and is headquartered in New York and has offices in New Jersey. Over the course of the company’s 46 year history, their brand has remained firmly rooted in the rich history of the EAP field, never losing sight of the fundamental purpose of the EAP; delivering personal and quality services to those in need. It is fair to say that Care Plus Solutions is the gold standard in the field of Employee Assistance.
Employers Mobilizing Benefits and Policy Changes in Light of COVID-19 (2020). https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/employers-mobilizing-benefits-and-policy-changes-in-light-of-covid-19-301031641.html
How Perceptions of Mental Illness Impact EAP Utilization (2017). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29465185/
Four new statistics that prove that telemedicine isn’t just a pandemic fad (2020). https://www.medicaleconomics.com/view/four-new-statistics-that-prove-that-telemedicine-isn-t-just-a-pandemic-fad