As we’re sure you know, the past year has seen a massive growth in virtual health across British Columbia – both in its use and its availability. A recent survey of patients who use Zoom to connect with their health care providers received over 1250 responses and revealed some interesting data. Overall, survey participants rate their virtual health visit over Zoom at 95 out of 100!
Keep reading for feedback from users across the province.
1. What type of health care provider did patients connect with virtually? 52 per cent connected with doctors. 12 per cent with counsellors, nine per cent with psychologists, seven per cent with nurses and seven per cent with physiotherapists.
2. 95 per cent of virtual health visit participants rate Zoom for virtual health visits favourably. They indicated that Zoom worked well, is easy to use and the video quality is good.
3. Virtual health visits saved a lot of travel, benefiting the patients and the environment.
4. In terms of cultural safety and respect, over 94 per cent of patients felt their needs were considered as well or better during a virtual health visit compared to in-person appointments.
5. The most highly rated benefits of virtual health visits are the saved travel time, the ease of access to care, the saving of money for patients, allowing the inclusion of family members and the speed with which care can be accessed.
6. Virtual health visits provided tangible outcomes.
7. Unfortunately, some patients experienced challenges with virtual health visits.
“It's life changing being able to do virtual appointments. It saves us time, and meant that my child missed less school than needed. Her father was able to join too, which doesn't normally happen.”
“For the first time in 35+ years when speaking to a doctor, I was asked sincerely if I had any other questions or health concerns I wanted to bring up. This virtual meeting was the first time I didn't feel rushed out the door after my initial issue was addressed.”
“I'm a caregiver. My parent would not have been able to do this without assistance to set up Zoom or understand how to open the link/video.”
“For those with mental health issues, it reinforces the idea that care is within reach. For anxiety and depression specifically, it helps take away any stigma of attending the designated buildings themselves, thereby reducing potential triggers/barriers to seeking and receiving care.”
Dr. Heather Scott, a psychologist with Forensic Psychiatric Services at BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, used to take all her appointments with clients in person. After March 2020, as soon as she was set up with Zoom for Healthcare she began to schedule her appointments virtually.
“It makes me feel good that I’m able to connect with people virtually who previously would have had challenges attending an in-person appointment. For example, recently, I connected with people north of Campbell River on Vancouver Island, and later that day with clients in Tofino, on the west coast of the Island. I’m based in Victoria, so driving to Tofino would have taken about six hours, and being in two geographic locations would not have been possible in a day.”
Dr. Scott knows that this new mode of care is making a massive difference in the geographic breadth of her work.
“Our ability to serve clients in rural and remote areas has been enhanced thanks to virtual health. The people in those areas might not have had access to any form of mental health treatment or assessment because of the limited mental health services in their geographical area. They may have had to drive a long distance to seek treatment before, which can be a burden on many people in need of help. I think virtual health is especially important given the size and geography of B.C., and as a provincial service, it’s important we reach people in all corners of the province.”