Physicians in BC now available via virtual care

Doctors urge patients to call them first if they need care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

BC’s doctors are now available to provide care to patients using telephone or video during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to providing in-person care when necessary.

The increased use of virtual care allows patients to receive medical care from their own doctor while practising 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. 
Doctors of BC President Dr Kathleen Ross points out that, “Family doctors know their patients best—they know their medical histories, their families, and understand their needs,” and that “many medical issues can be assessed and treated by phone and video.”

Dr Ross urges patients to call their doctor first when they need medical care. “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,” she says.

“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.  

Doctors will let their patients know if an in-person visit is needed, and their staff will follow-up to make arrangements.   

Things patients should know to get started:

  • Doctors are not seeing people in person as much as usual, but they are still booking appointments, even though they will be different than what patients are used to.
  • Patients should call their doctor’s office just as they normally would. Medical office staff will book the appointment and tell you how to prepare for the telephone call or video conference. Some doctors’ offices have online booking systems, as well.
  • Patients should not arrive at their doctor’s office without phoning first.
  • The virtual appointment is covered by MSP like any visit with the doctor. There is no additional cost for the service.

Benefits of virtual care appointments:

  • Reduces risk of transmission of COVID-19 for both patient and doctor.
  • People can see their own doctor from the safety of their home.
  • Increased accessibility to care for patients with disabilities, mobility challenges, and for those who live in remote communities.

Sharon Shore,
Senior Manager, Communications & Media Relations, Doctors of BC

This post has not been peer reviewed by the BCMJ Editorial Board.

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