What is virtual care?
Virtual care is a broad term for healthcare that is provided remotely using some form of technology.
A virtual care appointment is an appointment with your healthcare provider that occurs in real time over telephone or video conference using your smartphone, tablet, or computer device.
Virtual care can include:
- telephone health-care appointments;
- video health-care appointments;
- non-urgent communication with your health-care provider using secure messaging tools (for example, patient portal);
- digital technology use to monitor patient vitals remotely.
IMPORTANT: If you have an urgent medical issue, call 911 or visit an Emergency Department or Urgent Care Centre. Do not call or send emails or wait for a virtual care appointment if you have urgent symptoms or an emergency.
Why is LHSC offering virtual care?
Virtual care is not new. LHSC and care teams across Ontario have been using Virtual Care for many years.
Virtual care offers many benefits, including:
- Reduced travel expenses such as gas and parking costs;
- Less time spent driving, parking, and waiting in-hospital;
- Increased access for those living in rural and remote communities;
- Increased accessibility for people with mobility or sensory processing challenges;
- Potentially less exposure to infections and germs;
- Potential for increased family members and support person participation;
- Environmental benefits such as reduced carbon emissions and fossil fuel usage.
What patients have said
Our Virtual Care Patient Experience Survey with over 6,000 respondents as of September 2023 highlights the positive impact of Virtual Care appointments.
- 91 per cent of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with their virtual care appointment; and
- 76 per cent of respondents were likely, or very likely to choose to receive care virtually again where appropriate.
Is virtual care right for me or my loved one?
There are many options for trying virtual care. Talk to your health-care provider to let them know how you feel and what you prefer.
Some of the factors that help determine whether virtual care is appropriate include:
- Whether or not a physical exam is required;
- If a procedure needs to be completed in the hospital;
- If the patient has appropriate internet connection or telephone service;
- If the patient has access to a computer, tablet, or smart phone.
You and your health-care provider will decide together if virtual care is appropriate and the right option for you. Your health-care provider can add your virtual care preferences to your health-care record. Ask your provider today.