COVID-19 Drives the Growth of Telehealth in Canada

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( — April 26, 2020) — 

Anyone who has paid attention to the news recently has likely seen plenty of coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, it seems like this is all anyone can talk about. The public health crisis has totally changed how Canadians access healthcare and has led to the growth of Telehealth Canada. Almost overnight, people have tried to avoid physically walking into their doctor’s offices and have tried to find healthcare access online. While telehealth has been growing steadily over the past few years as the capacity for stronger and stronger internet connections increases, nothing has driven the adoption of telehealth quite like this pandemic.

For those who might not know, telehealth (also called telemedicine) is the use of communications technologies to deliver healthcare. While the most basic form of telehealth is a phone call, the true power of telehealth hasn’t been realized until the growth of text messaging and video conferencing. With the growth of video conferencing technologies, doctors are now able to physically see their patients without having to make them drive to the office. While telehealth does have its limitations (the most obvious being the inability to touch their patients), the growth of communications technology allows doctors to do more without having to physically touch someone. COVID-19 has thrust telehealth into the spotlight.

Of course, the pandemic has brought about the advent of social distancing. People are being encouraged to stay at least six feet apart from each other. People are being encouraged to stay in their homes as much as possible to limit the spread of the virus. The applicability of telehealth becomes obvious in this respect. Doctors are trying to find ways to stay safe as well, knowing that their services are essential in the fight against this invisible enemy. The result is that they need to find other ways to see patients, including those who need healthcare for reasons unrelated to COVID-19. The result has been the growth of telehealth.

It remains to be seen what will happen once this pandemic is in the rearview mirror. Right now, it appears that many Canadians like telehealth. It allows them to see a doctor without having to miss work and can save a lot of money on travel costs. How telehealth services are going to be reimbursed is still somewhat uncertain; however, during the pandemic, it is clear that telehealth is a vital service in Canada.