Virtual care is here to stay. Learn about the benefits for Canadians.

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What is virtual care?

Virtual care is any interaction between a patient and provider done remotely: for example, through videoconferencing, telephone, email/secure messaging or other technologies.

Improving Access to Care

When an in-person visit with a health care provider isn’t possible or even desirable, having access to virtual care can mean the difference between a patient receiving the care necessary to improve their health or dealing with the consequences of untreated ailments. During the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual care has enabled patients to continue receiving the care they need while keeping themselves and their families safe.

Virtual care can benefit a variety of patients, such as people with mobility challenges, residents living in remote areas and busy parents and workers who want the convenience of connecting through their device (possibly avoiding child care services or time off work, as a result).

Considering the benefits, it’s no surprise that the adoption of virtual care solutions and services is growing across Canada’s entire health system.

By the Numbers

of physicians currently use virtual care
of physicians who use virtual care say it enables quality care
of physicians who use virtual care say it improves their patients’ access to care

What Physicians Say

During the pandemic, there has been a dramatic shift towards virtual care, enabling patients and physicians to connect safely at a distance to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Survey findings indicate that Canadian physicians see the benefit of virtual care for themselves and their patients. Almost all Canadian physicians also say they will continue to use virtual care after the pandemic, with 64% reporting that they will maintain or increase their use.

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7 in 10 physicians using virtual care are satisfied with telephone and video visits.

By the Numbers

of all reported health care encounters over the past 12 months were virtual.
of Canadians were satisfied overall with their most recent virtual visit
of Canadians said the use of virtual care saved them time and money

What Canadians Say

Recent survey findings indicate that there is growing demand for and use of digital health services among Canadians. The survey findings also indicate that there is growing support for virtual care and Canadians have high satisfaction with their most recent virtual visit.

Canadians also reported various benefits associated with the use of virtual care, including:

  • Avoiding exposure to communicable diseases such as COVID-19
  • Saving time and money
  • Receiving more timely access to care

Virtual care saved Canadians 90 million hours from not having to arrange for care for dependents, not having to take time off work and not having to travel to attend in-person appointments, resulting in $6.1 billion in avoided costs.

The Future of Virtual Care

The future of virtual care looks bright — and illuminates the importance of Infoway’s current projects such as digital health literacy and clinician change management programs and further work on interoperability and standards. Working together, we can ensure that effective, equitable virtual care is integrated into the health system, for healthier Canadians today and tomorrow.

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