How VirtualCare is Enhancing Medical Access in Long-Term Care Homes
VirtualCare is an essential part of sustainable healthcare in Canada, providing patients with convenient access to quality medical care in the comfort and safety of home. Throughout the pandemic, reliance on VirtualCare surged – in February 2020, 48% of physicians had provided at least one virtual care service; by September, that number increased to 83%.
For long-term care homes in Ontario, the service was particularly valuable. VirtualCare ensured vulnerable residents maintained the ability to meet with doctors and seek medical advice, while avoiding inconvenient and potentially risky trips to doctors’ offices or the emergency room.
Here, we look at how two leading long-term care homes in Ontario – Heidehof and The Village of Winston Park – are using VirtualCare to improve patient care, enhance communication among staff members, and ensure residents maintain convenient, timely access to medical advice and medications.
Improving resident care
Heidehof, a long-term care home in St. Catharines has been using VirtualCare for doctor’s rounds, after hours visits, and for any concerns that arise when a physician is not physically present in the home.
Dr. Galina Arvinte, Heidehof’s Medical Director, leverages the platform’s visit description feature to triage residents. It is her preferred method of communication when she is unable to visit the home, as it provides safe and secure records of what is happening with residents. Dr. Arvinte also relies on additional key platform features, including secure chat messaging, where she and the nursing team can upload attachments, including lab results and photos of wounds, to provide a full picture of what care a particular resident requires.
Dr. Arvinte appreciates that prescriptions can be written directly in VirtualCare and instantly e-faxed to the pharmacy. “This shortens and improves timely medical care. [VirtualCare] is a reliable and safe platform to provide virtual care visits,” says Dr. Arvinte.
Heidehof has completed over 500 VirtualCare visits since October 2020.
Enhancing staff communication
Located in Kitchener, The Village of Winston Park is one of the Schlegel Village homes using VirtualCare. The home has been using the platform since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and has successfully integrated it into their normal practice.
The Village of Winston Park primarily uses VirtualCare for chat-based, non-urgent visits between nurses and physicians. When the physician needs to examine a resident, video is used, or nurses simply attach photos into the chat box, which is also leveraged for sharing lab reports and other key attachments. Additionally, approximately 90% of prescriptions are now written using VirtualCare’s e-prescribing feature.
“We really like [VirtualCare] – it’s very simple, very easy to use. We’re so used to it, it’s part of our normal practice. VirtualCare is now part of orientation with new nurses,” says Rabina Simovic, Director of Care.
Learning how to use VirtualCare is now part of The Village of Winston Park’s onboarding for new staff. Nurses receive support in setting up their account and conducting test visits to familiarize themselves with the platform before using it with residents.
Village at Winston Park has conducted nearly 300 visits to date.
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