We started working on PurposeMed 6 months ago with a vision to improve access to quality care for every Canadian. Our initial focus was to help communities where care is limited, especially in rural and indigenous communities. Our plan was to launch in June 2020.
And then COVID-19 struck. I was in self-isolation and could not join my fellow health professionals on the front line, and patients in self-isolation were struggling to reach 811. There was a massive problem, and virtual care could play a role in solving it. So we launched three months ahead of schedule on March 16 to connect patients with physicians virtually, free of charge to the patient and physician.
In the last few weeks, after speaking to dozens of physicians who consulted patients about COVID-19 through PurposeMed, we realised the answer is in empowering the physician to provide continuous, high quality care. So, we are now excited to launch a technology solution that enables physicians to securely provide virtual consultations to their patients, free of charge, in your own virtual clinic. Our mission is the same – to ensure every Canadian has access to a family physician. But we will achieve this by empowering you, the physician, with the tools you need to reach your existing patients as well as the nearly 16% of Canadians who do not have a family physician1.
Telemedicine is a great solution for reducing in-person visits (when appropriate) – we all know the importance of that right now. But what does telemedicine look like in a post COVID-19 world? Will it still be right for your practice?
After speaking to many of you and drawing on the experience of physicians in the US and UK where telemedicine is more widely used, I believe the answer is yes – with some caveats. Telemedicine has the potential to improve overall care. A recent study from Deloitte highlighted that access to care, patient satisfaction, and improved connection with patients and their caregivers are some of the benefits of using telemedicine2.
In addition, with video care we’re able to treat the patient in front us better than we ever could on the phone. With video we can see our patients’ expressions and their non-verbal cues.
However, a virtual care solution that works for physicians in Alberta must have a few key things:
I welcome your feedback and hope to work alongside you to improve the quality of care in Alberta.
Husein Moloo, MD MPH CCFP DTM&H
1 Primary Healthcare Providers, 2016. Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-625-x/2017001/article/54863-eng.htm
2 Abrams, K., Burill, S., and N. Elsner. What can health systems do to encourage physicians to embrace virtual care? Deloitte 2018 Survey of US Physicians. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/health-care/virtual-health-care-health-consumer-and-physician-surveys.html
3 Van Walraven, C., Oake, N., Jennings, A., and Alan Forster. The association between continuity of care and outcomes: a systematic and critical review. The Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice. June 2010. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2753.2009.01235.x
4 Cabana, M., and S. Jee. Does continuity of care improve patient outcomes? The Journal of Family Practice. 2004:53.Pages 974-980.
5 Med 222: Additional Virtual Care Codes for physicians during COVID-19 epidemic.