National standards for patient health information access is among 19 recommendations called for by the Virtual Care Task Force to enable and expand the implementation of virtual care in Canada.

The recommendations are included in the task force’s report, Virtual care: Recommendations for scaling up virtual medical services. It is a collaboration of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (Royal College) and the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC).

Task force calls for a number of recommendations

Among other key recommendations, the task force calls for:

  • increased support to regulatory bodies to simplify physician registration and licensure processes to allow physicians to provide virtual care across provincial and territorial boundaries
  • a framework to regulate the safety and quality of virtual care services
  • provincial and territorial governments, in collaboration with key associations, to develop new fee schedules for in-person and virtual care that are revenue neutral, and
  • the establishment and incorporation of virtual care education at medical schools and continuing education for health professionals.

“As the world becomes more and more technologically driven, health care remains one of the areas where Canada is lagging behind,” said Dr. Gigi Osler, Virtual Care Task Force co-chair for the Canadian Medical Association.

Must take advantage of new technologies

“We all recognize the potential of new technologies to transform the way we deliver and receive care. It's time we were able to take more advantage of them. We hope this report will serve as a roadmap to scaling up virtual care in Canada, with the goal of hitting 10 million virtual care visits by 2025.”

Expanding the use of virtual care will provide patients, especially those in remote and underserviced areas across Canada with improved access to specialist care, said Dr. Douglas Hedden, Virtual Task Force co-chair for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.

“Ultimately, our shared goal is to provide the best care to patients in a way that's convenient to them and involves them as a partner in that care.”