Pilot program expands to central and eastern NS
December 15, 2021
HALIFAX – People in central and eastern Nova Scotia who are on the Need a Family Practice Registry will soon start receiving invitations for VirtualCareNS. VirtualCareNS gives people on the registry the option to access a primary care provider online. It is a free program for patients delivered through Maple – one of Canada’s leading virtual care platforms – with Nova Scotia primary care providers.
“Nova Scotians have made it clear that access to healthcare is a priority,” said Premier Tim Houston (pictured). “We know we need to do things differently, and virtual care is an efficient way of making sure every Nova Scotian on the registry has access to primary care while we focus on recruitment efforts and other improvements.”
The government is investing $1.3 million in the expansion of VirtualCareNS, which is already available in the northern and western health zones.
“Beginning the expansion of VirtualCareNS into the central and eastern zones ensures that every Nova Scotian on the Need a Family Practice Registry will have timely access to a family doctor or nurse practitioner to receive the care that they need. We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from both patients and providers about this initiative and are continuously looking at ways to enhance virtual care options for Nova Scotians,” said Gail Tomblin Murphy, vice president, Research, Innovation and Discovery, and chief nurse executive at Nova Scotia Health.
As of Monday, December 13, Nova Scotia Health started contacting people who live in central and eastern zones by email, starting in communities with the largest number of people on the registry, people who have been on the registry the longest to be contacted first.
To be eligible for VirtualCareNS, people must:
- be on the Need a Family Practice Registry
- hold a valid Nova Scotia health card number
- be able to access the internet through a computer or mobile device
- have an email address that they regularly use
- be in the province when accessing VirtualCareNS.
During a virtual appointment, primary care providers can prescribe medications, order tests and make referrals for specialized care. If a patient’s health concerns can’t be resolved virtually, they will be provided with options for in-person care.
“Virtual care enables us to provide timely care and bridge the access gap for people who are unattached. We continue to recruit more family physicians and nurse practitioners to provide care through VirtualCareNS so we can ensure that everyone on the Need a Family Practice Registry can access care virtually until they are connected to a family practice,” said Dr. Maria Alexiadis, senior medical director, Primary Health Care and Chronic Disease Management Network at Nova Scotia Health, and family physician, VirtualCareNS.
The VirtualCareNS pilot program launched in northern and western zones last spring. People on the Need a Family Practice Registry in those zones with an email address on file have been invited to join VirtualCareNS. Those without an email address on file soon will receive a letter by mail with more information on how to participate.
“Since the launch of the pilot program earlier this year, we’ve seen tremendous success in bringing accessible care to Nova Scotians in the northern and western zones. We’re proud to continue working with Nova Scotia Health to expand the program into the central and eastern zones and to continue to deliver an exceptional virtual care experience for patients and providers across the province,” adds Shelly-Ann Rampersad, vice-president of Clinical Operations at Maple.
More information about VirtualCareNS is available at https://www.nshealth.ca/service-details/VirtualCareNS.