The pandemic has pushed virtual care to new heights, and its continued adoption is contingent on both physicians and patients being familiar with how to make the best use of it.
To help support its expansion, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) are launching the Virtual Care Guide for Patients. This bilingual resource was co-created with members of the CMA Patient Voice and Dr. Mark Dermer, a leading expert in telemedicine.
The patient playbook complements the Virtual Care Playbook launched in March 2020, ensuring that both providers and patients have the necessary support to fully leverage virtual visits.
Virtual care has become an effective method of providing care to patients during the pandemic, and the level of uptake and satisfaction pave the way for expanding its use. A new poll sponsored by the CMA shows that almost half of Canadians have used virtual care during the pandemic and 91% have been satisfied with their experience. In fact, the poll suggests that 43% of Canadians would prefer that their first point of medical contact be virtual.
To ensure patients take full advantage of virtual visits, the playbook provides insights on how virtual care works, how to prepare for it and what to expect during the visit.
Earlier this year, a joint CMA, Royal College and CFPC Virtual Care Task Force outlined 19 key recommendations to pave the way for virtual care in Canada, including:
- developing a framework to regulate the safety and quality of virtual care services;
- increasing support to regulatory bodies to simplify physician registration and licensure processes to allow physicians to provide virtual care across provincial and territorial boundaries;
- encouraging provincial and territorial governments, in collaboration with key associations, to develop new fee schedules for in-person and virtual care that are revenue neutral; and
- establishing and incorporating virtual care education at medical schools and continuing education for health professionals.