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NBHC releases report on patients’ response to virtual primary care

By Joe Thomson Sep 21, 2023 | 10:40 AM

National Cancer Institute / Unsplash

With waiting rooms at clinics piling up in New Brunswick, more people have turned to virtual care to get faster treatment.

A new report from the New Brunswick Health Council shows that virtual care can be a great tool for some people, but many people still want better access to in-person care.

Stéphane Robichaud is the CEO of the council. He says there have been some questions about whether virtual care is appropriate in certain settings.

“A lot of virtual care is done by phone, some of it’s done by text, some people questioned on whether it was the most effective or appropriate care. So, there were concerns about that for people, particularly in those cases where the situation be a bit more complex,” said Robichaud.

Virtual care has proven to be a great option for simpler treatments such as diagnosing common colds, and prescription renewals.

It lets people speak with healthcare providers without going to a clinic and risking exposure to other sick people, it has a much shorter wait time, and it removes some of the traffic from waiting rooms.

But that’s not the case for everyone. Some people who deal with more nuanced health issues need to see a doctor in person.

Some don’t have strong internet access, which makes virtual care difficult. Some just prefer face-to-face interactions and worry that virtual care will be used as a band-aid solution to the growing problem of access to primary healthcare.

“For those who cannot get access to a primary care provider or may not be able to get access in a timely fashion, for whom their condition may be a bit more complex, they had a lot of concerns about virtual care becoming sort of the mainstream because, for them, they felt it didn’t meet their needs,” said Robichaud.

He believes virtual care is best used as an additional resource that can take pressure off of the system, not a replacement for the system itself.

Click here to read the full report.