Virtual urgent care didn’t divert Ontario patients from ER visits during pandemic, study suggests – CBC

Doctors say virtual care can help with staffing crisis in emergency departments

Nov 06, 2023

Virtual urgent care didn’t make a dent in diverting patients with less severe health problems from emergency departments during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario, say physicians and researchers.

During the early days of COVID, when physical distancing was strongly encouraged, health care largely shifted to virtual delivery instead of face to face.

In Monday’s issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), Shelley McLeod, a clinical epidemiologist at Sinai Health and associate professor at the University of Toronto, and her team published a study that assessed more than 19,000 virtual urgent care visits across Ontario from December 2020 to September 2021.

The researchers looked at how ill patients were, their later in-person visits to an emergency department and outcomes at a mix of urban, pediatric and northern settings across the province.

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