The Newfoundland and Labrador government has announced the launch of a new virtual care system that aims to expand access to healthcare for residents in rural areas. Teladoc Health Canada, a leading provider of virtual healthcare services, has been awarded a two-year contract worth $22 million to operate the new system, with an option to renew for a third year.
Under the new virtual care system, patients will be able to connect with healthcare providers through video consultations, eliminating the need for in-person visits for routine check-ups and non-emergency medical issues. The first phase of the program will focus on virtual emergency care, with a virtual emergency room set to open this week at the Dr. Y.K. Jeon Kittiwake Health Centre in New-Wes-Valley. Patients will initially be seen by an in-person clinician who will conduct an assessment before connecting them with a virtual doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Health Minister Tom Osborne emphasized that the virtual care service will complement existing healthcare services and improve access to care for individuals who are in need of a family physician. By providing virtual options for emergency care, the government aims to keep facilities open and ensure that patients have access to care when they need it.
In the coming months, Teladoc’s virtual care services will expand to include virtual primary care physicians. Eligible individuals currently on wait-lists for medical care plans will receive letters inviting them to sign up for the service. The phased approach will gradually expand to include more people in the province.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: How does the virtual care system work?
A: Patients will first see an in-person clinician for assessment and then connect with a virtual doctor for diagnosis and treatment through video consultations.
Q: Will the virtual care system replace in-person visits entirely?
A: The virtual care system is designed to complement existing healthcare services and provide an additional option for individuals in need of care, particularly those in rural areas.
Q: How much will the virtual care system cost the provincial government?
A: The two-year contract with Teladoc Health Canada is expected to cost $22 million, with an option to renew for a third year.
Q: Who will be eligible for the virtual care services?
A: Initially, individuals on wait-lists with valid medical care plan numbers will be eligible. The program will gradually expand to include more people in the coming months.
Q: Will virtual care be the future of healthcare in Newfoundland and Labrador?
A: Health Minister Tom Osborne believes that virtual care will play a role in the future of healthcare, particularly in rural areas where it can be challenging to recruit physicians. However, the continuity of care by a family care team remains a priority.