Few trends in healthcare have the power to improve the provider-patient experience and engage patients in their own health management more than virtual care.
According to a 2017 Ipsos survey, nearly seven in ten Canadians don’t see a physician when they are sick due to long wait times, the inability to find a doctor after working hours, and physical barriers to care.
An important tool in improving access to care for Canadians is virtual care. Virtual care combines clinical care and professional collaboration through digital technologies enabling patients to call, text or video chat with healthcare practitioners using their computers or mobile devices.
Eliminating the barriers to healthcare
Designed to complement existing services, virtual care provides access to quality healthcare no matter where patients are located or when they need medical attention. Virtual care can help deliver:
- Healthcare to the five million Canadians who do not have a family physician
- Quality, non-emergency care at any time, from anywhere Wi-Fi or cellular service is available
- Access to care during evenings, weekends and holidays
- Reduced wait times to see a healthcare professional
- On-demand healthcare access to patients in remote communities or those with mobility issues
Improving the provider-patient relationship
While physicians aim to deliver the highest standard of care, a lack of available face-to-face time and increasing demands can mean shorter, less-effective visits.
Virtual interactions help alleviate some of the pressure by reducing the number of in-office patient encounters, decreasing the length of patient visits, and allowing for more focused, quality patient care.
Addressing the growing healthcare generation gap
A recent study by the Canadian Medical Association reports that users of the healthcare system aged 18 – 34 are eager adopters of technology in the management of their own health.
The study also found that 75% of Canadians believe that new technologies could solve existing issues in our healthcare system. Seventy per cent claimed they would take advantage of virtual physician visits, and many believe that it would lead to more timely and convenient care.
Advanced digital healthcare technologies coming to Canada
In 2018, TELUS Health partnered with Babylon, a global leader in digital health, to provide doctors and patients in Canada with access to virtual healthcare, starting in British Columbia.
The digital care technology is enabled via a mobile app. Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), the app includes an easy-to-use, chat-style symptom checker to help patients better understand their symptoms or healthcare concerns. This highly intuitive interface can also be used for video consultations with licensed Canadian healthcare providers.
Virtual care helps to ensure that Canadians are able to access quality healthcare, providing them with the tools, information and support they need to live healthier and happier lives.