The proof of the puddingThe saying, ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’, was first recorded in English in the early 17th century, but it is likely much older. Similar phrases denoting that to taste something is to test it go back to at least the 14th Century.
Back then no-one was talking about the kind of sweet, creamy ‘pudding’ confections we get today - puddings were gutsy literally. They were essentially sausages, boiled or steamed. In the Middle Ages, they could be very good or very bad - or possibly fatal if the meat used was contaminated. To find out, you had to put it to the ‘proof’.
The link to fatality in the context this article is very real. Usually in civilised environments, we have a choice as to whether we try things or not, but during the past 18 months or so, some of our choices have been curtailed. Some of the most basic of needs have been denied, and we have needed to ‘try’ something else to get by.
In some instances, this has had profound effects on lifestyles in a very positive way - one of which has been access to healthcare. Not only have we found different ways of accessing it, but in many instances the service and treatments have been quicker and, in some instances life-saving.
Regular readers of this column will know that the term ‘added value benefits’ from life companies has featured on a number of occasions. We at Paradigm have been doing our utmost to shout about the benefits. Many of our highly successful online workshops have featured different angles and elements, and will continue to do so moving forwards.
As we move out of the pandemic, I have asked a number of providers about these services, for a report on how they fared not just from a quantitative analysis, but from a qualitative one too. This is partly to see how they fared under pressure, and partly to see how valuable they potentially will become moving forward, as NHS waiting lists are not likely to decline anytime soon. Many have responded but one of them - Teladoc - provided me with some interesting and eye-opening facts on usage and quality.
Most would have expected demand to rise, for obvious reasons, but worldwide Teladoc saw 2.5 million consultations in 2019 rise to over 10 million in 2020. Having a four times increase in demand in any area of work is a challenge, but doing that with stretched resources is an incredible feat.
If we look at the most basic of services offered, the GP 24/7, we see that usage has increased considerably, and yet 96% of customers would recommend it in feedback gathered - a ringing endorsement.
When we look deeper into these numbers, there are even more reasons to commend the services, especially when users looked at what would have happened if they wouldn’t have been able to access the service:
- 66% would have gone to A&E - using the service 58% were able to stay at home and 7% were referred.
- 11% would have gone to their GP - using the service 22% were referred to their GP for a follow up.
- 4% would have gone to a specialist - using the service 13% were referred to and scheduled a specialist appointment.
I have heard some heartfelt examples. One was a young lady who was referred early enough – not from their own GP remember, but from someone who knew little of their medical history. She would not have survived if she hadn’t used the service – her diagnosis was early onset cancer, found from an online consultation and treated. Basically, she wouldn’t be alive today without access to GP24/7. Imagine the positive feeling of being a broker who recommended the policy that went on to save a life.
However heartwarming these stories are in relation to the past months, the clearer opportunity exists to explain to clients the benefits of such add-ons to life policies. Even the phrase ‘added value benefits’ does not do the support justice. For those who have had the benefit of the usage, they would probably argue they are the core benefit, with the life cover element secondary.
What about moving forward?
As I mentioned earlier, we see almost daily references to NHS waiting lists growing, specifically within the over-burdened mental health support sector.
Teladoc analysed a significant number of patients with psychological stress in the UK between January and May this year by using a tested ‘before and after’ measuring process. Of those with ‘moderate to severe’ and ‘severe’ psychological distress at the onset of therapy - around 30% of the total surveyed - only 2.5% showed some evidence of still suffering at the end of the therapy, and not one of the 2.5% were in the ‘severe’ bracket.
Moving forward, the benefits of having life assurance arrangements with either individual or group insurers will become an everyday part of our lives. It is currently estimated that accessing treatment directly for stress could take six months using the NHS, and yet the majority of providers can currently place those suffering on a programme within two to four weeks.
The proof is definitely proven, and I urge all of those who consult with clients on accessing life cover to shout about these benefits at a time when the value is at its greatest.