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COVID-19 is placing stress on Canada’s public health system. Our clinic is starting to offer virtual care to make sure that we can continue to care for our patients safely and effectively. This means that we will be using video and audio technologies for some patient visits rather than asking all patients to come into our office. Some of these technologies are provided by the province. Others have been provided by vendors such asGoogle or Apple to help make discussions with your care provider as easy as possible during these difficult times. Some health concerns can be addressed with virtual care alone, but in some cases your doctor may ask you to visit a hospital or other health-care facility if necessary, for a physical examination.
We do our best to make sure that any information you give to us during virtual care visits is private and secure, but no video or audio tools are ever completely secure. There is an increased security risk that your health information may be intercepted or disclosed to third parties when using video or audio communications tools. To help us keep your information safe and secure, you can:
- Understand that this method of communication is not secure in the same way as a private appointment in an exam room
- Use a private computer/device (i.e., not an employer’s or third party’s computer/device), secure accounts, and a secure internet connection. For example, using a personal computer or tablet is more secure than using someone else’s computer, and your access to the Internet on your home network will generally be more secure than an open guest Wi-Fi connection.
You should also understand that virtual care is not a substitute for in-person communication or clinical examinations, where appropriate, or for going to an emergency department when needed (including for any urgent care). If you are concerned about using video or audio tools for virtual care, you can ask our office to arrange for you to visit a different health-care provider or other health-care center where you can be seen in person. However, please note that visiting a health-care provider in person comes with a higher risk of coming into contact with COVID-19 and the possibility of spreading the virus. By providing your information, you agree to let us collect, use, or disclose your personal health information through video or audio communications (while following applicable privacy laws) to provide you with care. In particular, the following means of electronic communication may be used : audio or video conferencing (including Skype, Facetime, etc.)
The specialty of family medicine grew out of the general practitioner movement in the late 1960s in response to the growing level of specialization in medicine that was seen as increasingly threatening to the primacy of the doctor-patient relationship and continuity of care. Conceptually, family medicine is built around a social unit (the family) as opposed to either a specific patient population (i.e. adults, children, or women), organ system (i.e., otolaryngology or urology), or nature of an intervention (i.e., surgery). Consequently, family physicians are trained with the intent to be able to deal with the entire spectrum of medical issues that might be encountered by the members of a family unit