Many doctors intend to continue offering virtual care services post-pandemic in Mississauga, Brampton, and across Canada

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Published August 11, 2021 at 4:31 pm

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In order to ensure they could still provide treatment to their patients during lockdowns, many doctors began offering “visits” virtually.

As vaccinations rise, and restrictions ease, many doctors in Canada have announced they intend to continue providing certain services virtually.

A recent survey conducted for Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) and the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) found that nearly all Canadian physicians intend to continue offering virtual care services post-pandemic, and 64 per cent will maintain or increase their use of the service.

According to the findings, 94 per cent of physicians currently use virtual care—93 per cent offer telephone visits, 51 per cent offer video visits, 36 per cent offer email, and five per cent offering remote patient/home health monitoring.

Additionally, more than 70 per cent of physicians believe virtual care improves patient access and increases the efficiency with which they treat patients.

When it comes to the format of virtual care visits, 70 per cent were satisfied with telephone/video visits, while 50 per cent were satisfied with email messaging and home monitoring.

Moreover, 93 per cent of general practitioners are using electronic medical records, a seven-per-cent increase from 2019.

“The use of virtual care has increased greatly since the beginning of the pandemic but work is still required to ensure quality care and equitable access,” Ann Collins, president of the CMA said in a news release. “We still have work to do such as creating national licensure, developing quality standards, addressing interoperability as well as ensuring digital health literacy, education and training. These are crucial elements to the successful integration of virtual care into our health care system and should be part of our post-pandemic roadmap.”

However, many doctors acknowledged some patients may require additional support to access virtual care—particularly those who aren’t very technologically literate, as well as those with disabilities, language barriers, low incomes, chronic conditions, and those who are from remote locations and Indigenous communities.

“We will continue to collaborate with the CMA, governments and other health system stakeholders, including patients, to overcome any barriers associated with virtual care,” Michael Green, president and CEO of Infoway, said in the same release. “Infoway is developing programs to address digital health literacy and clinician change management and we are enhancing our work on interoperability and standards. Together, we can ensure that virtual care is effectively integrated into the health care system and that all Canadians have equitable access to it.”

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