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Virtual Care Amidst COVID-19


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Virtual Care: What Does it Look Like?


The purpose of virtual care is to allow a safer way for medical professionals to diagnose and treat their patients while putting less strain on hospital capacities. This year, many Canadians have been advised to use this strategy compared to visiting hospitals in person.


Virtual care can take place in the form of phone or video calls, emails, and texts. It's important to note that it does not substitute for physical examinations. A doctor may recommend an in-person examination when necessary, based on a patient's condition. Virtual care is mainly recommended to assist with flu-like symptoms such as allergies, minor coughing, headaches, etc.


To ensure privacy during calls, applications such as Skype, Zoom and FaceTime are used.


Managing Mental Health


In these trying times, when many are separated from their families and friends, it's important to reach out to others virtually. Isolation is difficult to deal with, and receiving virtual support from your friends and family might serve as a way to practice physical distancing while staying connected with others! Also, calling wellness helplines such as KidsHelpPhone or your health provider are other ways to seek support during the pandemic.


What If I Feel Sick?


Although most cases of COVID-19 are not severe, about twenty percent of those infected may experience serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing. Since some hospitals and staff are overwhelmed by the number of people in the ICU, it is recommended not to go directly to a hospital when you feel sick. It's important to recognize the symptoms of the virus, and identify symptoms related to other common viruses.


If you do believe you have COVID-19, your first instinct should be to self-isolate. By staying home, you are less likely to risk spreading the virus to friends, family or the general public. Make sure you contact your doctor and follow their directions to help take better care of yourself. They may arrange testing if you have not already. Lastly, try to keep track of your condition. If you experience worsening symptoms, call your health provider.


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Ways to Monitor Health


As discussed, one way to check on your condition is to see if your symptoms align with any of the COVID-19 symptoms. If so, you may consider getting tested. If you do get tested for COVID, do not go back to your medical center to ask for results; instead, use safer options: wait for a phone call/email or check your results using the Government of Canada website. There, you can fill in a form with the information you used to create an appointment, such as your name, health card number, and postal code. It may also use health care applications to assist in checking other laboratory test results.


Final message


Although there are obvious limitations to virtual care, it is a necessary substitute for general communication with your doctor. By limiting the amount of contact each patient has with their nearest hospital, the risk of spreading the virus further decreases dramatically.


For further reading, check out this infographic from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.


References


19 (coronavirus) in Ontario. (2020). Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://covid-

19.ontario.ca/

Admin, N. (2020). Virtual Care Resources: Canada Health Infoway. Retrieved October 17,

2020, from https://infoway-inforoute.ca/en/resource-centre/virtual-care

Information for Patients for Virtual Care. (2020). Retrieved October 17, 2020, from

https://family-medicine.ca/information-for-patients-for-virtual-care/

Laroche, J. (2020, June 08). N.S. doctors push for making virtual care permanent, not just

temporary COVID-19 measure | CBC News. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/phone-tele-medicine-doctors-ns-code-fee-

virtual-medicine-1.5603197

Moor, C. (2020, February). Virtual Care: What It Is, and What It Looks Like In Practice.

Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://blendedcare.com/virtual-care/

Zafar, A. (2020, June 08). Many Canadians used virtual medical care during COVID-19, poll

suggests | CBC News. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/

virtual-care-cma-survey-1.5603713



Article Author: Idil Mohamed Gure

Article Editors: Victoria Huang, Edie Whittington