Leveraging Digital Technology during COVID-19

September 28, 2020

By Niharika Kumar, EMR/IT Specialist

As you may already know, the COVID-19 pandemic has made virtual care and digital health tools an indispensable component of our clinicians’ practice.

So what is virtual care?

By definition, virtual care is the practice of providing or receiving healthcare services through communications technology. It allows patients to connect with their health care providers through video and/or audio from any location with a phone or internet connection.

During the pandemic, the Upper Grand Family Health Team has adopted a number of digital health tools to provide quality virtual care to their patients. This means that your provider can now diagnose, recommend treatment and prescribe medication, all without the need to see you in person. In addition to helping patients decrease their risk of contracting COVID-19 by staying within their homes and social bubbles, it also eliminates the need for travel making digital care an eco-friendly choice as well!

Virtual care is NOT recommended in case of medical emergencies, but can be very efficient for day-to-day issues like: allergies, anxiety, addictions, headaches, infections etc. At the Upper Grand Family Health Team, our allied health clinicians are even providing virtual exercise and nutrition assessments and plans, mental health therapy, palliative care, medication review and management, among many other services. Please see our website for a full list of services available to you at little or no cost.

What our clinicians are saying:

“Video sessions gave us the opportunity to continue with the work we had been doing before the pandemic so clients’ progress with their healing was not impacted.

Virtual counselling allowed for people struggling with anxiety through very uncertain times always had access to timely mental health support.

Having a variety of counselling options available virtually made it possible to meet clients’ needs when in-person appointments were not possible.

For many people struggling with anxiety, virtual sessions have been preferred over in-person appointments because they can get the counselling they need in the comfort of their home.”

Lindsay Long, MSc, MSW RSW

Here are few things to keep in mind when you have your virtual care appointment:

  1. Make sure you have access to equipment with video and audio capabilities i.e. tablet, desktop computer, laptop and/or smartphone.
  2. Make sure your internet connection is strong.
  3. Don’t be shy! Remember that your trusted and reliable healthcare provider is on the other side of the screen, and are being just as respectful of your privacy and confidentiality as when they see you in their office. Treat the virtual visit as an extension of in-person care.
  4. Take 10 minutes before your appointment to prep yourself and test the connectivity.

Your Privacy is important…

At Upper Grand Family Health Team we use virtual care platforms that are fully compliant with provincial privacy guidelines. Our digital health tools are fully encrypted and secure to allow for private communications. We work hard to ensure PHIPA and PIPEDA compliancy for not only for the safety and satisfaction of our staff, but for yours too.

Here’s how you can protect your own privacy and security:

  1. Keep strong passwords and do not share your passwords or log-in credentials with anybody
  2. Do not email any personal health information (PHI) to your doctor or any healthcare provider without signing a consent form
  3. Do not attend virtual care appointments in public areas
  4. Understand the privacy and confidentiality policies in place
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