Canadians Can Help Ensure Their Safety During Rapid Rise of Virtual Care

EDMONTON, Alberta, Oct. 26, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Virtual care is here to stay. Although in-person remains the first choice for seeking care in the future, 45% of Canadians say they would use virtual care post-pandemic. Virtual care has been shown to make it easier to find and share patient information, and close the distance gap between patients and providers.
However, with patient safety incidents the third leading cause of death in Canada, we have to focus on safety and effectiveness of virtual care, just as we do for in-person care.“We know that more than a third of Canadians would like to have virtual visits with their healthcare provider as a first point of contact,” says Dr. Jennifer Zelmer. Dr. Zelmer was recently appointed President and CEO of the organization formed after the amalgamation of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) and the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI).“Virtual care can improve timely access to care, quality and safety, and healthcare costs, but these benefits are not automatic,” Dr. Zelmer continues. “We need to embed safety and quality in the design and use of virtual solutions. Transforming care is the goal; technology is the enabler.”“Improvements promised by virtual care are not guaranteed,” says Theresa Malloy-Miller, Co-Chair of Patients for Patient Safety Canada. “And what about equity? Low-income and rural populations could still suffer from reduced access.” Malloy-Miller insists on attention to cultural and linguistic barriers, continuity of care, and accountability when a doctor could be anywhere in Canada.“We started 20 years ago with getting the basic infrastructure digitized and online,” says Shelagh Maloney, EVP of Canada Health Infoway. “In fact, Canada is one of the leaders in telehealth because of our large rural and remote population. The pandemic, virtually overnight, made a number of obstacles disappear.”The Canadian Patient Safety Institute is partnering with CFHI and Canada Health Infoway to deliver Canadian Patient Safety Week, from October 26 to 30. The theme for 2020 is Virtual Care is new to most of us.CPSI worked with the Canadian Medical Association to develop virtual care checklists and infographics. Access resources for both healthcare providers and members of the public at Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) is a not-for-profit organization that exists to raise awareness and facilitate implementation of ideas and best practices to achieve a transformation in patient safety. CPSI reflects the desire to close the gap between the healthcare we have and the healthcare we deserve. CPSI would like to acknowledge funding support from Health Canada. Visit for more information.The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact: Christopher Thrall, Communications Officer 
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