Virtual Care Resources
Ontario Health Guidelines for the Use of Virtual Care
On November 9, Ontario Health released new virtual care guidance materials for primary care clinicians. The ‘Clinically Appropriate Use of Virtual Care Guidance for Primary Care’ aims to help primary care clinicians feel supported in the decisions they make related to the planning and delivery of virtual care.
This is ‘phase one’ of the virtual care guidance for primary care. More detailed virtual care guidance will be released in the future, including materials focused on other specialties and areas of care.
The virtual care guidance for primary care materials were developed with a patient-centred care approach and informed by an expert panel of clinicians and patients.
The virtual care guidance materials can be accessed at: Ontariohealth.ca/virtualcareguidance
A French version of the virtual care guidance is also available at Ontariohealth.ca/fr/guidesoinsvirtuels
Do you have feedback on the guidance documents? Ontario Health wants to hear from you! Email PCP.Guidance@ontariohealth.ca with any feedback or questions on the documents.
Telus Virtual Visit Tool Now Available to You and Your Patients
Your South Georgian Bay Ontario Health Team (SGB OHT) is a new model of organizing and delivering health care that better connects patients and providers in their communities to improve patient outcomes. Click here to learn more about SGB OHT.
Advancing Innovative Digital Health
Advancing innovative digital health to expand access to care for patients and providers, and to better connect our local and regional systems are key priorities for the SGB OHT. Digitally enabled OHTs offer health service providers opportunities to streamline their workflow and provide more efficient channels for delivering services. For patients and caregivers, having access to online tools will empower them to feel more connected and have improved access and quality of care. As the SGBOHT continues to evolve and support our community, there is an increased need to provide patients and providers with simple and sustainable integrated virtual care tools. The first stage in the SGBOHT digital health and innovation plan is to enable appointment tracking and provide you with the Telus PS Suite EMR Virtual Visit tool.
Virtual Care Together Design Collaborative Toolkit
Preliminary Clinician Change Virtual Care Toolkit
Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) and Health Care Excellence Canada (HEC) are pleased to announce that the Clinician Change Virtual Care Toolkit is now available for download.
The Clinician Change Virtual Care Toolkit contains information synthesized from existing resources and tools that support clinicians and their support staff with the use and adoption of virtual care. Information focuses on three priority areas: 1) appropriate use of virtual care, 2) quality and safe virtual care interactions and 3) use and optimization of virtual care. The toolkit was informed by subject matter experts including clinicians and the Virtual Care Together Design Collaborative, an initiative which brought together 25 teams across Canada to prepare, implement and evaluate virtual care tools and resources.
Why Our Community is Loving Virtual Care
As a result of COVID, the medical community has had to adapt how it provides healthcare services to its patients. The ability to offer online appointment booking is just one convenience that allows patients more control over their access to health visits and treatments. As we move forward with virtual (online) visits for patients, this is the next step in the evolution. Once an individual, or their caregiver, is familiar with the technology it provides an easy, convenient and safe option for patients to meet face to face with their healthcare providers. It is especially beneficial for immuno-compromised people, people suffering from chronic conditions with mobility issues, those who are unable to get to a doctor’s office due to disabilities or lack of transportation, and seniors during the winter months when travelling can be hazardous. The ability to see and speak to a healthcare provider “face to face” is also important from a social aspect of seeing someone outside the home.
The patient is often more relaxed in a home setting and may be more forthcoming with any problems they are experiencing. It also offers the healthcare provider a “look” into the home circumstances and can open the discussion about support requirements in the home depending on the patient circumstances.
In the response to the pandemic, the Family Health Team understood the need for increased mental health counselling. Offering our patients virtual and remote counselling addressed this need.
The benefits of this approach to counselling were unique and allowed people to access regular counselling from the comfort of their homes, increased the level of accessibility for our patients and took down some of the barriers presented.
Some of the benefits that some patients were experiencing included not having to take time off for appointments to attend an in-person session which eased difficulties in juggling work and family responsibilities or attempting to coordinate schedules. This was especially helpful for single parents.
The specific nature of therapy itself (as opposed to other physical/medical treatments) is the added comfort of being able to have the appointment from the privacy and security of your own home. In therapy, it is common to discuss extremely emotional topics and people are often required to be vulnerable. For many, this is easier to do via video conference in comparison to an office setting that one is unfamiliar with. Being in your own home when a therapy session ends can also often facilitate a more conducive way to regroup and settle emotions post-therapy.