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Why OHIP needs to keep virtual care codes after COVID-19

My story and why Virtual Care can Help

One of my clients has created a petition to have OMA and MOHLTC to keep Virtual Care Codes after COVID-19. Letting OHIP patients keep access to virtual care post COVID-19 will improve efficiency and the quality of care.

Historically, patients had to visit a clinic and wait to get things like test results or simple consultations, this creates a additional strain on limited resources creating large wait times. There is a good chance while they are waiting they are going to be exposed to infection vectors that may cause them to catch the cold, flu or something worse.

The reason is, a physician is NOT PAID for any work they do unless the patient presents themselves in person.

A few years ago during the SARS outbreak virtual care codes were created to allow primary care physicians to see patients remotely. However, after the outbreak these billing codes were removed. Let’s not make the same mistake today!

I’d also like to share a bit of a personal story of a situation where a lot of time and resources were wasted. A few years ago my son fell and hit his head, he became lethargic so we went to the ER. After about 6 hours he was visibly improved but we waited for the doctor to get skin glue to seal the wound. 

However, during this time in the ambulatory waiting area, there was a child who had a fever and was vomiting, he would be sick and move from one part of the room to another with his mother each time it happened. 

We saw the doctor and were told to come back in 48 hours if he vomited, of course at 42 hours he vomited so back to the ER we went. When I saw the triage nurse, I asked her point-blank, look, I’m pretty sure it’s the flu so if you can tell me there are no signs of a concussion I’ll gladly be on my way but she said she cannot make that diagnosis and I would have to wait for a doctor. The nurse re-iterated it’s better to be safe than sorry.

After another 10 hours in the waiting area, it was confirmed it was just the flu, no signs of concussion and we were free to go.  

Had we been able to get a quick virtual visit, chances are:

1. The flu virus would have never infected him in the first place

2. He would have not spent 10 hours in a room filled with two dozen other people potentially spreading the virus further.