The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) released a national poll showing that Canadians are embracing virtual care options and would like to see them not only continued after the COVID-19 crisis subsides but improved and expanded in the future.
The national poll conducted by Abacus Data between the 14th and 17th of May 2020 found that almost half of all Canadians have now accessed a physician using virtual care options and they are highly satisfied with the results. Those who connected with their doctor virtually during COVID-19 report a 91% satisfaction rate – 17 points higher than in-person emergency room visits. Moving forward, almost half (46%) of Canadians who had the opportunity to use virtual care since the pandemic outbreak would prefer a virtual method as a first point of contact with their doctor.
“Physical distancing measures designed to keep Canadians safe during our fight against COVID-19 have led to the adoption of virtual care out of necessity,” says Dr. Sandy Buchman, CMA President. “The train has left the station now that Canadians have had the opportunity to access virtual care, and they’ve had an overwhelmingly positive experience when they did so. We need to build on this momentum. Canadians should be able to access healthcare in a timely and convenient fashion.”
The poll also highlighted that half of Canadians believe virtual care could impact the cost of our health care system, improve access to specialists (45%) and timeliness of test results (41%).
Earlier this year, a CMA-led task force issued a report outlining recommendations on how the federal government and stakeholders can improve and expand virtual care throughout Canada.
“What’s needed now is for the Federal government to facilitate a pan-Canadian framework for virtual care, with provinces and territories playing a key role in how virtual care is improved and expanded,” says Virtual Care Task Force Co-Chair and CMA Past President, Dr. Gigi Osler. “All Canadians – from urban to rural, remote and Indigenous communities – can benefit from more choice and convenience when it comes to how health care is accessed and delivered.”
More information related to the Virtual Care Task Force and public opinion research can be found online at: https://www.cma.ca/virtual-care