The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be the impetus for Alberta’s healthcare system to adopt an approach to virtual care. Not only are physicians able to bill for virtual appointments but Alberta Health Services has implemented a secure system that protects patients’ privacy during telephone, text, email or video-conference exchanges with healthcare professionals. This additional flexibility is something patients have wanted as it allows people with disabilities, people with mobility issues, those with limited caregiver support, etc. another way to meet with their healthcare team. It also is a vital tool that can be used to control infection spread and protect patients, doctors, and clinic staff.

Just like an in-person appointment, it is important to be prepared for a virtual visit. Many of the traditional ways to prepare for a medical appointment also apply to virtual care. Some steps to help you include:

  1. Be prepared to explain your concern, any pre-existing conditions, allergies, etc.
  2. Make a list of your medications including name, strength, and instructions that you follow. You can ask your pharmacy for a summary of your medications if you do not have one. Be sure to include any non-prescription or natural health products on your list.
  3. Bring copies of any recent tests or blood work.
  4. Have someone with you to take notes, ask questions and support your concerns.

However, adjusting to a virtual care appointment means changes for both patient and healthcare provider. The Canadian Medical Association, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada have produced a virtual appointment guide for both patients to ensure this remains an effective way to communicate health concerns. You can find these guides here.

If this fits your needs, be sure to ask for a virtual visit at your next appointment booking.