NL Health Services will launch a new virtual care solution this fall that will increase access to health care for rural areas and residents who do not have a primary care provider. Health minister Tom Osborne made the announcement today as part of the latest Health Care Action update.
The virtual care service will include:
- Virtual primary care for residents who do not have a primary care provider and have registered on patient connect. This access will be through a virtual physician available Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.;
- A virtual emergency room that will ensure virtual physician coverage 24 hours per day, seven days per week to emergency departments in select rural health care facilities that do not have local physician coverage; and
- Other needed physician coverage such as urgent care centres.
A contract valued at $11 million annually has been awarded to Teladoc to provide virtual technology, as well as physician coverage for two years. The new virtual care service is another pathway to improving access to care. The province is also improving access through 19 previously-announced Family Care Teams, and through a successful recruitment strategy that has recruited more than 72 doctors since April.
The service will begin with the launch of the Virtual Emergency Room at the Dr. Y. K. Jeon Kittiwake Health Centre in New-Wes-Valley this week, and will expand to other communities in the following months.
Residents who are registered through Patient Connect or other provincial wait lists and have a valid MCP will receive a letter in the mail informing them of how they can access the virtual care service. This will be rolled out in the upcoming months, with the first eligible residents receiving a letter in the upcoming weeks.