Most physicians ready to increase use of virtual care
August 11, 2021
TORONTO – According to a recent survey conducted for Canada Health Infoway and the Canadian Medical Association, almost all Canadian physicians say they will continue to use virtual care after the pandemic, and 64 percent say they will maintain or increase their use.
The survey was conducted online in April and May with more than 2,000 physicians – general practitioners (GPs)/family physicians, specialists and residents.
“The use of virtual care has increased greatly since the beginning of the pandemic, but work is still required to ensure quality care and equitable access,” said Dr. Ann Collins (pictured), CMA president. “We still have work to do such as creating national licensure, developing quality standards, addressing interoperability as well as ensuring digital health literacy, education and training. These are crucial elements to the successful integration of virtual care into our healthcare system and should be part of our post-pandemic roadmap.”
Ninety-four percent of physicians said they currently use virtual care, with 93 percent offering telephone visits, 51 percent offering video visits, 36 percent offering email/messaging and five percent offering remote patient/home health monitoring.
More than 70 percent believe virtual care improves patient access and enables quality care and efficient care for their patients.
Seven out of 10 were satisfied with telephone/video and about 50 percent were satisfied with email/messaging and remote monitoring. More than 70 percent said they have the knowledge and skills needed to use virtual care, are satisfied with time spent with patients, and found it easy to integrate into their workflow.
In addition, 93 percent of GPs are now using electronic medical records (EMRs), up from 86 percent in 2019 (Commonwealth Fund Survey).
“It’s clear from these findings that virtual care is here to stay in Canada,” said Michael Green, president and CEO, Infoway. “Physicians are satisfied with it and they recognize the benefits to their patients and their practice. It’s also good to see that almost all GPs are using EMRs, which can really help enable virtual care.”
The survey also found that physicians believe some patients may need additional support to access virtual care. In particular, they mentioned patients with: low levels of technology literacy, disabilities, language barriers, low incomes, chronic conditions, and those who are from remote locations and Indigenous communities.
“We will continue to collaborate with the CMA, governments and other health system stakeholders, including patients, to overcome any barriers associated with virtual care,” Green said. “Infoway is developing programs to address digital health literacy and clinician change management and we are enhancing our work on interoperability and standards. Together, we can ensure that virtual care is effectively integrated into the healthcare system and that all Canadians have equitable access to it.”
Download the results: 2021 National Survey of Canadian Physicians.
About the Canadian Medical Association
The Canadian Medical Association is the national voice of the medical profession. Our focus is on creating strong and accessible health systems, fostering well-being and diversity in medical culture, and ensuring every person in Canada has equal opportunity to be healthy. In partnership with physicians, medical learners, patients and others, we advance these goals through advocacy, knowledge sharing and granting.
About Canada Health Infoway
At Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) we believe a more connected and collaborative system is a healthier system, and we work with governments, healthcare organizations, clinicians and patients to make healthcare more digital. We’re working to ensure that everyone is able to access their personal health information, book appointments, get prescriptions, view lab test results and access other health services, online. We’re working with our partners to transform the health system because we know that digital in health can be as transformative as digital has been in other aspects of our lives. We’re an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government. Visit us online at www.infoway-inforoute.ca.