Ontario invests $3 million in virtual visits with doctors
November 20, 2019
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – As part of its new Digital First for Health strategy, the Ontario government announced it will increase the availability of virtual care with approximately 55,000 more video visits provided by physicians to patients in a location of their choice over the next year.
To do so, the government will invest $3 million in new funding to compensate physicians for video visits they are now able to provide. In doing so, patients will enjoy more flexibility to access care in a convenient way.
More patients will be able to have secure video visits with their healthcare providers from their location of choice, such as the comfort of their own homes. Patients will still be able to see their providers in person, but this will allow providers to use video visits to provide their patients with more options to access their services.
The expansion of virtual visits was announced by Christine Elliott (pictured), Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, at a news conference at Trillium Health Partners’ Credit Valley Hospital. The move is part of the Digital Health First strategy, which contains the following five pillars:
- More virtual care options: Expanding availability of video visits and enabling other virtual care tools such as secure messaging. Additionally, providers will be able to leverage a variety of virtual care technologies that best meet the needs of their patients.
- Expanded access to online appointment booking: Patients will be able to book appointments that best meet their needs.
- Greater data access for patients: More patients will be able to review their secure health record online and make informed choices about their care.
- Better, more connected tools for frontline providers: More providers will be able to access patient records stored across multiple health service providers to provide better, faster care.
- Data integration and predictive analytics: Providers will face fewer barriers to integrating and using secure health information to manage health resources and improve patient care. This could lead to improvements such as earlier intervention and better management of chronic disease.
“For Ontarians, this will mean being able to choose how they receive care and services, control over how to access personal health information, and not needing to retell their stories,” said Elliott. “For healthcare providers, this will mean having the necessary information and supports at their fingertips, enabling them to focus on care rather than technology.”
In addition, this first phase will enable Ontario Health Teams to collect, use and share information to allow for better patient care and outcomes. This will improve convenience for patients and promote more connected care by ensuring patients won’t need to retell their health information over and over. This will be achieved through the proposed changes Ontario is making to modernize the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) that will also introduce stricter provisions for any individual or organization that misuses personal health information.
As the development and implementation of digital first approach to health continues, the government will make continued investments to expand digital health solutions in support of the full implementation of the strategy.
“Ontario is already a world leader in providing specialized care video visits to patients at healthcare facilities across the province, improving access to care in our most northern and rural communities,” said Dr. Ed Brown, CEO of Ontario Telemedicine Network. “Recently, we’ve focused on more innovative virtual care options that connect patients directly with healthcare providers easily and conveniently through their own personal computer or smartphone. The ability to connect virtually enables patients to receive care when and where they need it.”