The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) released the following statement regarding phone visits/vitural care. COVID-19 is placing stress on Canada’s public health system. Our clinic is starting to offer virtual care to make sure that we can continue to care for our patients safely and effectively. This means that we will be using telephone, video and audio technologies for some patient visits rather than asking all patients to come into our office. Some of these technologies are provided by the Province. Others have been provided by vendors like Google, or Apple to help make discussions with your care provider as easy as possible during these difficult times. Some health concerns can be addressed with virtual care alone, but in some cases your doctor may ask you to visit a hospital or other health care facility if necessary, for a physical examination. We do our best to make sure that any information you give to us during virtual care visits is private and secure, but no video or audio tools are ever completely secure. There is an increased security risk that your health information may be intercepted or disclosed to third parties when using video or audio communications tools.
To help us keep your information safe and secure, you can: • Understand that this method of communication is not secure in the same way as a private appointment in an exam room. • Use a private computer/device (i.e., not an employer’s or third party’s computer/device) and a secure internet connection. For example, using a personal computer or tablet is more secure than at a library, and your access to the Internet on your home network will generally be more secure than an open guest Wi-Fi connection.
You should also understand that virtual care is not a substitute for in-person communication or clinical examinations, where appropriate, or for attending the Emergency Department when needed (including for any urgent care that may be required). If you are concerned about using video or audio tools for virtual care, you can ask our office to arrange for you to visit a different healthcare provider or other health care center where you can be seen in person. However, please note that visiting a health care provider in person comes with a higher risk of coming into contact with COVID-19 and the possibility of spreading the virus. By providing your information, you agree to let us collect, use, or disclose your personal health information through video or audio communications (while following applicable privacy laws) in order to provide you with care. In particular, the following means of electronic communication may be used : Telephone visits, videoconferencing (including Skype, Facetime, etc.).