Patients are making long journeys to visit specialists for simple face-to-face consultations even though all diagnostic work has been completed and the reports forwarded.
What if it were possible to be referred to a specialist, have all diagnostic work completed close to home followed by a virtual consult. Then, once diagnosed and working within a single provincewide electronic communications system, develop a treatment plan, book appointments and communicate with all needed service providers. Results and reports flow to your specialist, GP and other service providers who all communicate. That is a team!
What if, incorporating this model using a province wide electronic/virtual communications network, were to result in our system moving closer to becoming patient centered care?
Alas, with few exceptions, patients, their families or caregivers are required to make long, expensive, stressful and unnecessary trips for face to face consults when a virtual consult would provide the same outcome. The ability for patients to communicate virtually (when appropriate) with their health-care provider would save days of negotiating difficult travel conditions, significant and unrecoverable costs for meals and hotels and reduced time away from work. Expenses borne by patients fly under the radar because they are not included on a ministry of health budget line.
National and international studies extolling the advantages of virtual communication abound.
We are more than half way through a four-year election cycle so, unless there is a concerted effort to introduce a universal electronic medical record/virtual communication system soon, it will drop off the ‘to do’ list again.