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Virtual Care

Virtual Care is a health care delivery model that enables our patients to access high quality care outside of the hospital environment. This is achieved through the use of technology or other forms of communication.

As part of this delivery model, patients have virtual visits. A virtual visit is an appointment with your doctor or health care team that does not involve an in-person meeting.

There are two types of virtual visits:

  • A phone visit, where you speak with your doctor/healthcare team using a telephone or smartphone
  • An e-visit, where you speak with your doctor/healthcare team using a smartphone, computer or other personal device with a microphone and camera

Frequently asked questions about Virtual Care:

Why is Hamilton Health Sciences offering virtual visits?

Hamilton Health Sciences offers virtual visits to provide high quality, safe care to our patients and families outside of the hospital environment. Virtual care reduces travel time and other costs associated with on-site visits for patients, while maintaining access to care.

What happens during a virtual visit?

Your health care team talks with you about your current health status, any symptoms you may be experiencing and your needs. If your health care team feels that an in-person visit would be a better fit for you, they will discuss your options and next steps with you.

During your appointment, you and your health care team will talk about how you’re feeling, your questions and next steps in your care plan.

How is a virtual visit booked?

A member of your health care team will call you and inform you that your appointment will be virtual and talk to you about options for virtual care.

The decision on which type of virtual visit you have will be made based on your care needs and the technology you and the clinic have access to.

As part of the booking process a member of your healthcare team will:

  • Give you instructions on how to prepare
  • Ask for your verbal consent for the upcoming appointment
  • Let you know the day and time of your virtual visit and confirm they have your preferred contact information.

Depending on how the visit is booked, different communications forms or technology may be used.

If you have a virtual phone visit booked, you will use your smartphone or telephone during the visit.

If you have a virtual video visit booked, the platform will be Ontario Telehealth Network (OTN) or Zoom Healthcare.

What equipment do I need?

For a phone visit you will need:

  • Private space
  • A telephone or smartphone
  • Pen and paper to write down any questions or instructions from your health care team

For a video visit you will need:

  • Private space
  • A personal device (smartphone, tablet, camera) with a microphone and camera
  • High speed internet
  • An email address (to receive the link for your visit)
  • Pen and paper to write down any questions or instructions from your health care team

Note: If you don’t have access to the equipment above, your health care team will do everything that they can to make other arrangements for you to access care appropriate to your needs.

How can I prepare for my virtual visit?

  1. Make sure that your technology is set up and functional
  2. Find a quiet, private space so that you can easily hear and be heard\
  3. Decide if you would like a family member or caregiver to be with you during the visit
  4. Have all your materials ready prior to the meeting including:
    • Health Card
    • Pen and paper to write down information and instructions
    • List of medications being taken (if applicable)
    • Notes of medical history, symptoms
  5.  Think about and write down questions you would like to ask

Protecting your privacy during your virtual visit

Your privacy is very important to us at HHS. We protect your privacy during virtual visits in the same way as we do during a clinic visit.

This means:

  • Only the people providing care to you will be present during your appointment – unless you are part of a group care session, in which case other members of the group session will also be present.
  • Discussion during the visit will be documented in your health record, just like an in-person appointment would be.
  • We suggest that you take similar steps to protect your own privacy. This means being aware of your surroundings and who may be able to overhear your virtual visit.

The video conferencing platforms that HHS uses are used by many hospitals in Ontario and Canada. These platforms have been reviewed by our Privacy and Information Security teams, and recognizing that there some risk associated with email correspondence, we are taking appropriate precautions to make sure your information is as safe and secure as possible.

  • Calls and video are not recorded or kept by OTN or Zoom Healthcare after you appointment finishes
  • HHS is not responsible for the security of patients’ internet service providers, email domains, personal devices or personal computers.
  • We suggest that you use your personal email when communicating about your health and not a work email address, as your employer may have the right to inspect your work email.
  • Use a secure internet connection. Do not use a public internet connection such as at the airport internet café, public library or other open area. Other people may be able to use the link to listen in on your appointment without you knowing.

Can I decline a virtual visit or change my mind?

Yes, you can decline or withdraw your consent for virtual visits or communication using email or text, at any time, by contacting your health care provider.