"As a tertiary centre, Hamilton Health Sciences cares for patients who live throughout the region and beyond.”
“The pandemic created a need for health care teams to pivot quickly so they could offer virtual care,” says Lucas Milinovich, Director of Urgent and Ambulatory Care. “In providing virtual visits as an alternative option to in-person visits, we are ensuring that patients have access to care that is secure, safe and accessible.”
In addition to decreasing the chances of viral spread with unnecessary visits to the hospital, virtual care has numerous other advantages for patients.
“From an educational perspective, virtual care creates opportunities for patients to easily access information and resources from their home,” explains Virtual Care Specialist Julie Matthews. “Different programs across Hamilton Health Sciences have created special online resources, such as informational videos, online classes and virtual group sessions.”
Virtual care also brings many advantages for health care workers. Online appointments enable them to monitor patients remotely and share test results online without the need to book a physical space for consultation. This helps to optimize the time and resources of health care teams.
Because distance doesn’t matter with virtual care, it also saves time and money for patients who have far to travel for an in-person appointment.
“As a tertiary centre, Hamilton Health Sciences cares for patients who live throughout the region and beyond,” says Lucas. “Virtual services benefit patients who have challenges with transportation, whether because of the distance involved or because of medical concerns. Patients can attend a virtual appointment during their lunch break instead of needing a day off work.”
One misconception about virtual health care is that older patients will be uninterested in participating.
“We’ve found the opposite to be true,” explains Julie. “In fact, the patient data we’ve gathered to date has shown that the demographic of patients over 65 has the highest satisfaction rate with virtual care. We’re also finding that older people want to continue accessing virtual care.”
As an increasing percentage of the general population is vaccinated, the light at the end of tunnel grows brighter. But even as society continues to inch its way back toward normalcy, virtual care will remain an option.
“Even after the pandemic has ended, it may be a while before many people feel comfortable coming to the hospital in person,” says Lucas.
Virtual and in-person services will be offered concurrently, providing different options to best serve the specific needs of patients.
“We are continuously evaluating and measuring our success,” says Julie. “It is a continuous quality-improvement opportunity. This is an interesting time at Hamilton Health Sciences as virtual care continues to develop beyond the pandemic and into the future.”