VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — B.C. doctors are increasing their use of virtual visits to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Doctors of BC says the use of visits over the phone or by video-conference are up as physicians try to cut down on in-person contact with patients during the coronavirus pandemic.
The increased use of virtual care allows patients to receive medical care from their own doctor while practicing physical distancing or self-isolation. It protects not only patients, but also their doctors so they can continue to treat patients during the virus outbreak, says a release from Doctors of BC.
“Family doctors know their patients best — they know their medical histories, their families, and understand their needs,” says Dr. Kathleen Ross, president, Doctors of BC. “Many medical issues can be assessed and treated by phone and video.”
Patients should still call their doctors’ offices to set up appointments, but will now be told whether to come in to see their GP, or converse via video conference or over the phone. Medical office staff will book appointments and provide information about how to prepare for telephone calls and video conferences.
Some doctors’ offices have online booking systems, as well.
Virtual visits are covered under the Medical Services Plan, says Doctors of BC.
Doctors are still providing in-person care, when necessary.
“Although the virus is top of mind right now, people still need ongoing care and advice for acute or chronic conditions requiring treatment or medication,” Ross said.
“There is a misconception that patients shouldn’t contact their doctors for routine appointments or non-COVID-19 related illness right now — absolutely they should,” she added.
Family physicians will also continue to refer patients to specialists as needed.
For seniors living at home, those with disabilities, or people considering themselves to be high-risk, it is especially important that they contact their doctor for advice if they have not already connected.
Patients should not arrive at their doctor’s office without phoning first, says Doctors of BC.