The CFPC advocates for greater support of virtual care in family practice
(Mississauga, ON) The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges in access to health care, which has led to a need for the better use of virtual services to support continuity of care. Recognizing this need, the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) is pleased to release a new resource: Virtual Care in the Patient’s Medical Home.1
This new position paper expands on the Virtual Care Taskforce’s guidance in Virtual Care: Recommendations for scaling up virtual medical services, which the CFPC co-authored.2 It’s a topic that has lingered on the agenda for Canada’s health care system for too long.
A CFPC survey of family physicians conducted last year after the start of the pandemic found that four out of five of patient visits were happening virtually.3 Virtual care is one method to enhance access for individuals seeking care from family practices; however, it is vital to underscore the fact that sporadic and intermittent virtual visits with a patchwork of different providers do not support continuity of care.
“Virtual care is the new reality for most family physicians and their patients, and more resources are needed to ensure virtual care complements in-person care and supports the continued delivery of high-quality, timely, comprehensive care that is provided close to home,” says the CFPC’s Executive Director and CEO, Francine Lemire, MD CM, CCFP, FCFP, CAE, ICD.D. “The CFPC advocates for the integration of virtual care as a regular pathway to accessing family practices and is calling on government leaders to address current gaps, including cross-provincial licensing restrictions and stable, equitable remuneration for delivering care using these methods.”
“It is important to view virtual care as being integrated throughout comprehensive primary care, and not as a separate stream of care,” adds the Chair of the CFPC’s Patient’s Medical Home Committee, Yan Yu, MD, MPP, MBA, CCFP. “Virtual care that is based on ongoing patient-doctor relationships and contributes to continuous care from teams of health care professionals results in better outcomes for patients.”
It is also necessary to understand the limitations that currently exist that affect the provision of virtual care. More work needs to be done to support improved infrastructure (such as better broadband Internet access in rural and remote areas) and to acknowledge that marginalized and vulnerable individuals often have reduced access to virtual care and face greater challenges in engaging with these services.
About the College of Family Physicians of CanadaThe College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) is the professional organization that represents more than 40,000 members across the country. The College establishes the standards for and accredits postgraduate family medicine training in Canada’s 17 medical schools. It reviews and certifies continuing professional development programs and materials that enable family physicians to meet certification and licensing requirements. The CFPC provides high-quality services, supports family medicine teaching and research, and advocates on behalf of the specialty of family medicine, family physicians, and the patients they serve.
College of Family Physicians of Canada
905-629-0900 ext. 432