Does the word “virtual” bring to your mind images of high-tech 3D goggles and holograms? Contrary to the belief that virtual care belongs to the world of science-fiction, it is actually quite a simple concept: the use of technology we already have to communicate with healthcare professionals. If you have used Skype, FaceTime or Zoom to speak with a client or to join a meeting, you are already familiar with the technology required to use virtual care. Widely adopted in Europe and Asia, virtual care helps individuals fill in gaps between visits to the doctor and avoid unnecessary trips to clinics and emergency rooms.
Virtual care also provides companies with practical and cost-effective employee health benefit options. However, because it is still gaining traction in Canada, it can be difficult to find accurate information about this new technology.
We’ve rounded up 10 common myths about virtual care to help you navigate what’s true and what’s false about this new model of healthcare in Canada today:
MYTH 1: VIRTUAL CARE PROFESSIONALS CANNOT TREAT PATIENTS EFFECTIVELY.
A recent study in B.C. found that 79% of patients who experienced a virtual visit said the quality of care was to the same standard as an in-person visit. Moreover, 91% said the online visit helped them with the health issues they were dealing with. During a virtual consultation using Medisys On-Demand, if the healthcare professional is unable to provide optimal care virtually, you will either be directed to the closest clinic or your family physician. If your symptoms are alarming and the medical professional determines that it’s an emergency, you will be directed to the closest emergency room. In both cases, the clinician will contact you within 48 hours to do a follow-up and ensure your health is in good hands.
MYTH 2: VIRTUAL CARE IS ONLY USEFUL FOR PEOPLE LIVING IN REMOTE LOCATIONS.
Virtual care is a highly effective tool for those living in remote locations, but it’s more than just a lifesaving technology for those without easy access to a doctor. Virtual care benefits everyone as it allows people to:
- Save time: 90% of ER visits in Canada in 2016 took 7.8 hours to complete
- Improve continuity of care: 68% of Canadians skip or avoid medical appointments due to barriers like long wait times
- Receive private health advice for sensitive issues from the comfort of your home: more than 60% of people with mental health illness don’t seek the help they need, often because of the stigma or perceived stigma around seeking help
- Seek medical attention without having to wait for an appointment at the doctor’s office
Read our Virtual Healthcare Industry Report for more information
MYTH 3: WITH VIRTUAL CARE, EMPLOYEES CAN EASILY FAKE SYMPTOMS TO GET SICK NOTES.
As with any doctor, it is possible that an employee could fake an illness to get a sick note. However, Medisys On-Demand only employs experienced healthcare professionals just as qualified as any family doctor or nurse practitioner. Each will only give out sick notes (for a maximum of three days) if deemed medically necessary after the completion of a video consultation to confirm the patient’s identity and state of health. Our virtual care practitioners also have access to the patients medical files and history, to support the accuracy of a diagnosis.
MYTH 4: DURING A VIRTUAL CONSULTATION, IT'S TOO EASY TO GET PRESCRIPTIONS FOR ANTIBIOTICS.
Virtual care doctors are held to the same standard as brick and-mortar doctors, which means they are just as aware of the problems surrounding the over-prescription of antibiotics and work to find the best solution for each of their patients. If it is deemed that a physical test is necessary to distinguish between a possible viral or bacterial infection, the patient will be directed to obtain such test(s).
MYTH 5: PERSONAL VIRTUAL CARE ACCOUNTS CAN EASILY BE SHARED WITH RELATIVES SO THEY CAN USE THE SERVICE.
Virtual care apps take security and privacy seriously. Most apps are secured, and with Medisys On-Demand, users are required to authenticate their accounts with a picture ID. When a prescription is written, a video consult is required to confirm the user’s identity and the prescription is written in the user’s name only. Within your Medisys On-Demand account, you can invite your family members to use the service, but your partner requires his or her own app, account and user authentication. Children over 14 can also have their own accounts, with your agreement. No personal information is shared within families to guarantee that each account holder can consult privately and address highly-personal issues.
MYTH 6: VIRTUAL CARE IS ONLY USEFUL FOR COMMON HEALTH ISSUES LIKE COLDS.
Virtual care goes beyond common health issues. For many users, it helps manage a variety of conditions such as assessing injuries, dealing with anxiety and depression, managing chronic conditions and other more complex health problems. Learn about the variety of ailments Medisys On-Demand helps diagnose and treat by clicking here.
MYTH 7: TELEHEALTH DEVALUES THE DOCTOR/PATIENT RELATIONSHIP.
Medisys On-Demand, and apps like it, are not meant to replace your family doctor. In fact, with your consent, we share information about your virtual visits to keep your family doctor up-to-date on any changes to your health. Furthermore, numerous studies have found that virtual consults can successfully replace office visits in many situations without compromising the quality of care and communication between patient and physician. For instance, the American Journal of Managed Care recently published a multi-year study revealing that 62% of responding patients reported the quality of virtual video visits was no different from that of office visits, and 68% of patients rated virtual video visits at 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale. Clinicians also overwhelmingly report that virtual video visits are superior to office visits for timely scheduling of patient appointments and for visit efficiency.
MYTH 8: IF I START A VIRTUAL CONSULTATION, I'LL END UP SPEAKING TO A DOCTOR IN ANOTHER COUNTRY WHO DOESN'T MEET CANADIAN STANDARDS.
We can’t guarantee the quality of care on all virtual care apps, but with Medisys On-Demand we only use experienced Canadian physicians and registered nurses. Every time you log in, you will speak with a live medical professional within your region who follows and is governed by provincial regulations.
MYTH 9: USING A VIRTUAL CARE APP IS NOT SECURE.
With access to such sensitive information, it’s vital to ensure all the information you share is kept secure – Medisys On-Demand takes this to heart. Just like your family doctor visits, every consultation with our health care professionals remains fully confidential. Only you and your care team are allowed to access the information in your medical records. We can, however, share this information with your primary care physician, but only with your consent. To maintain this confidentiality, your health records and conversation history are fully encrypted and stored in an ISO 27001 and ISO 27018-certified data centre located in Canada. With these measures in place, 94% of patients reported confidence in the security and privacy of their personal information when using a virtual care system.
MYTH 10: IT'S POSSIBLE TO GET A PRESCRIPTION FOR A MEDICATION AND USE IT SEVERAL TIMES
Prescription drugs are often necessary components of a treatment plan, but they can be inappropriately used. To combat this, each prescription given out by a doctor over Medisys On-Demand is sent directly to the pharmacy of your choice, where the prescription will be filled. This allows our healthcare professionals to track the drug usage of their patients. Prescription renewals are only provided when medically necessary.
HOW VIRTUAL CARE CAN HELP YOU
It takes research and understanding to decide if any new technology is a good choice for you or your business. With these common myths about virtual care debunked, you’ll have a clearer view of what it offers.
Click here to learn more about what Medisys On-Demand can do for you and your workforce.