What is Virtual Healthcare? All You Need to Know About Telemedicine


We’ve all been there; you feel so awful that even your hair hurts. Your nose is running non-stop and tissues are now part of your essential living items. You know you should get checked at the clinic, but can’t muster up the courage or the strength to get off the living room couch. Your head hurts and being around other people doesn’t feel safe for you or for them. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could talk to a healthcare professional without the trip or the wait?

Good news! Because we live in a tech world, we have access to virtual healthcare, also known as telemedicine.

What is virtual healthcare?

Think of it as on-demand access to healthcare professionals via secure text or video chat, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Telemedicine connects you with nurse practitioners and physicians who can answer your health questions and address your concerns.

Considering that 61% of family doctors say they can’t accommodate urgent appointments and that 20% of Canadians wait 7+ days to see their doctors, this virtual medical service provides the ultimate solution to many of the problems we face with traditional healthcare.

What are the benefits of virtual healthcare?

Virtual healthcare is a safe and private way to quickly connect with a healthcare professional. There are lots of good reasons why you should consider trying it out:

  • Convenient access to care at any time—even late at night and on weekends
  • No more waiting in crowded emergency rooms for minor health problems
  • No need to take time off work or drive far to talk to a healthcare professional
  • Stress-free consultations from the comfort of your home
  • Private care for non-urgent physical and mental health concerns
  • Prescriptions and renewals in minutes
  • Easy to get referrals to specialists and lab requisitions
  • Quick and easy access to digital health records

What kinds of non-urgent healthcare issues can be dealt with virtually?

You can skip the long waits at the clinic or the emergency room for non-urgent physical or mental health issues like:

  • Infections
  • Rashes and skin irritations
  • Anxiety
  • Stomach and digestive issues
  • Cough
  • Colds
  • Depression
  • Flu (without complications)
  • Weight loss counselling
  • Insomnia
  • Smoking cessation
  • Sports injuries

Virtual healthcare may not be the right option for every health issue. When virtual healthcare is possible, you can get prompt access to care before a health issue becomes more serious.

How can I access virtual healthcare?

There are several ways you can access virtual healthcare. Many Canadian companies now include virtual healthcare in their employee benefit plans, so check yours to see if you have access to this service.

If you don’t have access to telemedicine through your employee benefit plan, many private practices offer virtual healthcare on their online platform for a fee. To find a provider, do a quick search online for virtual healthcare providers in Canada.

Data source: Truven Health Analytics (2013), Avoidable Emergency Department Usage Analysis, retrieved from: www.truvenhealth.com - External link. This link will open in a new window..