7 Ways virtual care supports Canada’s COVID-19 response
“Please state the nature of the medical emergency,” is affectionately remembered as the iconic line stated by Star Trek Voyager’s holographic Doctor every time he comes online. Operating on an independent power grid, the Doctor is given the ability to venture outside the medical bay to treat members of the starfleet as required. In one episode, the Doctor even contains and cures a mysterious contagion that leaves the entire starship unconscious.
While virtual care in 2020 isn’t exactly an intelligent, self-learning hologram tending to the individual health needs of patients across Canada, the concept of medical attention when you need it, wherever you are in the world certainly resonates. In the current reality of COVID-19, on-demand healthcare is no longer a luxury but a necessity in ramping up Canada’s response to the pandemic. Here are seven ways virtual care can help keep Canadians safe and healthy:
1. Addressing physical and mental care needs, and everything in between
Health and well-being are more than just physical; in fact, mental health factors like stress and loneliness can matter more to someone’s well-being. That is why virtual care provides a combination of primary care and mental health support. Such a combined approach is especially valuable during this challenging time as we continue to practice physical distancing–sometimes alone–while attempting to maintain our physical health.
In addition to answering COVID-19 related enquiries and providing support on a psychological and emotional level, virtual care can also assess common health issues like colds, skin concerns, and digestive issues, anxiety and depression, and manage chronic conditions.
2. Connecting to a comprehensive solution for all your healthcare needs
There’s diverse expertise within a highly qualified team of medical professionals. Virtual care streamlines patient access to the appropriate healthcare professional in a timely manner so that they can begin their journey towards optimal health when they’re ready. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Akira by TELUS Health’s team included around 100 clinicians – Registered Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, registered mental health specialists, all with experience in delivering outstanding health healthcare services. The team has been growing steadily and significantly since the outbreak to address the increased needs of Canadians.
3. Reducing strain on the healthcare system and ER visits
An astounding 40,000 Canadians visit the ER every year just to renew prescriptions and typically wait over four hours–and sometimes a lot more–to get their prescription. Yet, a Truven Health Analytics study shows that 70% of visits to ERs or clinics can be replaced by online consultations without any impact on the quality of care. Amid COVID-19, virtual care not only has the ability to keep these stats at bay but can also reduce contagion by: (1) decreasing the number of potentially infected patients from going to ER; (2) reducing the exposure to the disease for people who aren’t sick; and (3) reducing healthcare professionals’ exposure to COVID-19 and other diseases.
4. Keeping patients at the centre of care
In many ways, virtual care is designed with the individual patient in mind. The Canadian Virtual Healthcare Study revealed what Canadians want most when it comes to the benefits of virtual healthcare. Ranked within the top six were access to care outside of business hours (67%), less time missed at work (47%) and more regular visits with a healthcare professional (45%). In the time of COVID-19, easy access to qualified healthcare professionals matters more than ever. For those living with chronic conditions and mobility issues, or residing in remote locations, the benefits of virtual care are even greater.
5. Streamlining the healthcare experience
Virtual care strengthens the continuity of care by integrating seamlessly with electronic medical records to ensure that patient history is documented in real-time. This continuity of care is further bolstered by greater patient engagement; with patients’ ability to book appointments around their respective schedules, physicians see better access to their patients.
Additionally, virtual care solutions like Akira by TELUS Health offer on-demand care, meaning they can talk to a healthcare practitioner as soon as they need it and have follow-up consults with the same clinician, further strengthening continuity of care.
6. Providing on-demand care for the whole family
Akira by TELUS Health users have the ability to invite family members (partner/spouse and children under the age of 26). Children over the age of 14 can have their own account, but younger children need to conduct their consults through their parents’ account. Personal information is never shared within families to guarantee that each account holder can consult privately and address personal issues, but parents will have access to the consult information for the children under 14 who are on their account.
Virtual care apps take security and privacy very seriously. Most apps require authentication using a government-issued picture ID. When a prescription is written, a video consultation is required to confirm the user’s identity; further, prescriptions can only be written in the user’s legal name. Additionally, video is required every time a parent initiates a consultation for a child to confirm the child’s identity and well-being.
7. Helping employees get well and stay well 24×7
Being able to access care when and where you need it is valuable at all times, whether children need medication after clinic hours or someone needs mental health support in the middle of the night. In a time when routines have gone out the window and the lines between home and work life are blurred, it is especially important for virtual care to be accessible on-demand, 24/7. Akira by TELUS Health is available anytime and anywhere, and without appointments. Members can get the care they need when they need it and when it is convenient for them, whether that’s in-between work calls, while the kids are napping, or after a long day on their feet.
Akira by TELUS Health is a national, on-demand virtual care solution offered to Canadian companies as an employee benefit. Akira gives members and their family direct access to secure medical consults with friendly, knowledgeable clinicians – 24/7 and across the country. Akira is available in French and English via smartphone or computer, for new and refill prescriptions, specialist referrals, medical advice, mental health support, and more. Learn more about Akira by TELUS Health.