Virtual healthcare is becoming increasingly popular due to its convenience and accessibility. When the world went into lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual medical appointments became essential. Nowadays, they have become common practice in many places. But what exactly is virtual healthcare, and what are its benefits?

What is Virtual Healthcare?

Virtual healthcare, also known as telehealth or telemedicine, refers to using technology to provide medical services remotely. This can include video consultations with healthcare providers, remote monitoring of patients' vital signs, and even digital prescription and pharmacy services. Patients can see healthcare professionals from the comfort of their own homes using any of their devices, via the internet.

What are the benefits of Virtual Healthcare?

1. Convenience

The convenience of virtual healthcare is hard to beat. Gone are the days of scheduling appointments weeks in advance and spending hours in a waiting room for small questions/concerns or common prescription refills. With telemedicine, you can see a doctor, often on the same day and receive treatment without ever leaving your home.

2. Accessibility, Time and Cost-Savings

For patients who live in rural and remote areas where there are fewer medical services, telehealth can radically improve accessibility to medical care, saving hours of travel time and expense for a brief, routine appointment. In urban environments, it can also provide welcome relief from the pressure and cost of organizing childcare, using public transit or fighting traffic and finding parking in order to visit a doctor in person. It can also reduce time away from work required to attend medical appointments, and be highly beneficial for individuals with mobility issues, or those with chronic conditions who require frequent check-ups.

Analysis of savings to the healthcare system is still underway, but as virtual health care makes proactive and preventative care more accessible, it holds promise to enhance the efficiency of appointments and reduce the number of emergency room visits due to minor health issues going unattended and progressing to serious, life-threatening conditions.

3. Improved Health & Well-Being

Needless to say, preventative care that improves individual health outcomes can significantly enhance a patient’s sense of wellbeing.  Regular communication with healthcare providers, remote monitoring of vitals, and timely actions to help prevent disease progression and complications for patients can empower patients to work with their health care provider to maintain and enhance their health. Patients can also access an increasing variety of medical practitioners remotely, including counselling services to support mental health. Research has also explored the benefits of virtual sessions for rehabilitation care, specifically cardiac care, showing positive outcomes.

During times of pandemics or outbreaks—as we all recently experienced—virtual health care has been proven to help reduce the risk of exposure to infectious diseases. We know avoiding crowded waiting areas and limiting in-person contact helped reduce the transmission of the flu as well as COVID during the pandemic, and is especially helpful for patients who are immuno-compromised or vulnerable due to age or other conditions.

If you’d like more detailed information, check out this study: The potential socio-economic impact of telemedicine in Canada.

Virtual Healthcare & GMS

Stay tuned for some evolving offerings from GMS in April 2024 and virtual healthcare.