Canadian Medical Association

It’s a device that retails in the US for $299. And Dr. Mark Dermer says it’s paving the way for a new kind of virtual care. The home medical kit can act as a stethoscope, thermometer, otoscope and camera – and then allows patients to send real-time examinations to their physicians, remotely. 

Dr. Dermer told the Virtual Care Task Force it’s technology like this that’s making virtual care an urgent issue for Canadian physicians, and the health care system.

“Until the virtual care era came, I never really stopped to think about the fact that our physical examination manoeuvres are essentially decades, even centuries, old. There’s never been any compelling reason to evaluate them. This is going to change things.” − Dr. Mark Dermer, Virtual care physician, Dialogue Technologies

As a physician who already practises virtual care, Dr. Dermer’s presentation kickstarted the June meeting of the Virtual Care Task Force, a joint initiative of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Created in March 2019, the task force’s mandate is to identify the regulatory and administrative changes needed to support virtual care in Canada, and to allow physicians to deliver care to patients within and across provincial/territorial boundaries.

“Virtual care not only has the power to improve patient care, and access to care, it can also make physicians’ practices more efficient. We’re looking to provide a road map for Canadian physicians on how to provide high-quality virtual care within our publicly funded system.” – Dr. Gigi Osler, CMA president

Recognizing the importance of this work on virtual care, the CMA wants to ensure physicians, residents and students from across the country are involved in the discussion.


HOW YOU CAN JOIN THE DISCUSSION ON IMPLEMENTING VIRTUAL CARE IN CANADA

  • Attend the virtual care policy discussion at the CMA Health Summit on Aug. 13 in Toronto. Physicians, patients, policy-makers and anyone else with an interest in virtual care are encouraged to take part, and the CMA recently published a discussion paper on virtual care to help set the stage.
  • Join the CMA’s community of interest to take part in online discussions about virtual care. Anyone can join, and as a community member, you can share your own experiences and opinions about virtual care and ideas for improving the system.

The CMA community of interest on virtual care and the Health Summit virtual care policy discussion will be used to help inform future work on this issue.

The Virtual Care Task Force will also be taking note of this feedback; it recently created four working groups to examine how payment models, licensure and quality standards, interoperability and governance, and medical education will need to be adapted to support virtual care in Canada. The task force is also integrating the patient perspective, with a patient advocate member, and at least one patient representative on each working group.

As Dr. Dermer told the task force, it’s work that needs to be done.

“This isn’t the virtual care of five years ago. Virtual care will quickly expand its scope through the adoption of new digital devices and research. And we need to be ready.”


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