Access to primary care during the COVID-19 pandemic poses a problem for some patients as they follow public health instructions to practice social distancing and staying home. With patients obeying public health instructions, physicians are seeing less demand for traditional face-to-face clinical appointments. Virtual medical appointments using the Novari eVisit™ technology provide a safe way for patients and physicians to see each other, with no need for the use of critical personal protection equipment (PPE), such as N95 masks.
As a vendor of record (VOR) with Ontario Health (OTN), Novari Health was selected to provide the province with virtual waiting room capabilities. The Novari eVisit™ virtual care software’s waiting room or “virtual clinic” has been deployed to allow Ontarians to have enhanced access to primary care physicians from the comfort of their home.
The Ontario Virtual Care Clinic (OVCC) is powered by Novari eVisit, a virtual care software system made in Kingston Ontario by Novari Health, currently being used by hundreds of individual primary care and specialist physicians.
The OVCC is a collaborative initiative of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), OntarioMD, Ontario Ministry of Health and Ontario Health (OTN). Canada Health Infoway, an independent, federally funded, not-for-profit organization, is providing funding to Ontario Health (OTN) to support this innovative access to care project.
The Ontario Virtual Care Clinic is staffed by licenced Ontario physicians who responded to a call from the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) for primary care physicians interested in helping. Hundreds of physicians responded, keen to participate, from every corner of the province. OntarioMD, a wholly owned subsidiary of the OMA, is working with MetriCaid to schedule physicians for the clinic and is working with Novari Health to train physicians. From their offices, clinics and homes, these physicians are seeing patients virtually using video and audio.
Patients can access the free OVCC by going to www.seethedoctor.ca and entering access code – health. Following the prompts, patients enter the virtual waiting room and see their estimated wait time to see a physician. The OVCC’s capacity to see patients is being closely monitored by administrators to maximize the available physicians to virtually see as many patients as possible.
If the virtual waiting room is at capacity, patients will be directed to receive care from Telehealth Ontario, their primary care provider or local hospital. The service is for non-urgent health concerns. Patients with urgent or emergency medical concerns should call 9-1-1.
The service is designed to provide care for simple health concerns like colds, cough, flu, allergies, women’s health issues, chronic disease management, pain, urinary tract infections, rash and medication questions. Patients should first reach out to their own primary care provider if they have one as the virtual service is not intended to replace regular care. Those with symptoms related to COVID-19 such as difficulty breathing, persistent fever or dry cough should access Ontario’s online self-assessment tool, contact their family doctor or local public health unit for further assessment and instructions.
Patients requesting a virtual visit require an OHIP card, internet access, a device with a camera and microphone, email address and a mobile phone number to receive important text notifications.
The Microsoft Teams healthcare software experts at Novari Health in cooperation with Ontario Health (OTN) have worked day and night to quickly make the OVCC a reality. Acutely aware of the pandemic emergency and the stress it is placing on patients, physicians and the health system, Novari realized that with hard work, resourcefulness and innovation that our Novari eVisit virtual care solution could be modified to support the OVCC virtual waiting room. Inside Novari a multidisciplinary COVID-19 Emergency Response Team (CERT) team was immediately stood up to quickly design, build, test, deploy and support the OVCC. Work that should have taken many months was accomplished in a few weeks.
Related: Microsoft Teams Healthcare