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This thought leadership piece is written by Chris Denys, Senior Vice President of Possibilities for Lumino Health, Canada’s largest free digital health network and an innovation from Sun Life. Here, he shares why helping Canadians find virtual care quickly and easily matters.
Virtual care has quickly taken centre stage during the COVID-19 pandemic. What was an early emerging trend in Canadian health care has now become an essential service for many.
Provincial governments have expanded their billing codes to cover virtual care on a temporary basis. In turn, doctors and allied health care providers like physiotherapists, psychologists and more have adapted quickly. They’ve embraced virtual care in greater numbers than ever before.
The role of virtual care
Virtual care is not meant to replace the key role played by a family doctor. That one-to-one relationship is the foundation of primary health care in Canada. Virtual care provides immediate and convenient access to quality health care without crowded waiting rooms or physical distancing issues.
The demand is there. Pre-COVID-19, Canada Health Infoway surveyed Canadians about virtual care. Nearly two-thirds (64%) said they wanted to write to care providers through email. Nearly half of respondents (44%) said they would welcome a video visit. However, a recent Lumino Health survey showed that 55% of Canadians don’t know how to find virtual care.
With the COVID-19 crisis, access to qualified health care professionals matters more than ever. For those with chronic conditions, mobility issues, or a remote location, the benefits of virtual care are even greater.
Helping Canadians find and access virtual care options
In April this year, we launched Lumino Health Virtual Care in partnership with Dialogue – one of Canada’s fastest growing telemedicine companies. Through the platform, Sun Life Group Benefits Clients have virtual access to doctors, nurse practitioners and nurses. They can discuss symptoms, write prescriptions, and make referrals to other professionals such as mental health practitioners. We also extended claims coverage for many virtual services covered by Clients’ plans.
Through Lumino Health, Canadians can easily find and book an appointment with more than 12,000 health care professionals. They can find psychologists, physiotherapists, massage therapists, chiropractors and more. A virtual visit icon appears on the profiles of those who offer phone or video visits.
We also launched a Virtual Care Guide to help Canadians learn more. For example, what to expect at an online doctor’s appointment and how to navigate online health care.
The future of virtual care
Virtual care is here to stay, and its use will grow. In fact, the Alberta government recently made temporary virtual care billing codes permanent.
Post-pandemic, few who have had access to virtual care will want to give up its safety and convenience. Getting care quickly and easily means less disruption to work and family life. It also offers peace of mind – creating a healthier, more productive workplace.
Senior Vice President, Possibilities, Lumino Health