Toronto Star: Phone appointments with doctors can be life-changing. So why is Ontario devaluing them?
On November 10, 2022, Toronto Star Data Reporter Patty Winsa’s article was published outlining the impact that Ontario’s new virtual care rules will have on patient care starting December 1, 2022. The article, which is behnd the Toronto Star’s paywall, can be found here: https://bit.ly/3TqCpak
The OAC is mentioned in the article and OAC Board Member Dr. Richard Davies was interviewed. An excerpt is provided below:
Organizations such as the Ontario Association of Cardiologists, as well as some Ontario hospitals, have contacted the government to make the case that phone appointments are not only necessary in some cases, but are effective and worked well during the pandemic.
The [Physician Services] agreement says that when a patient is referred to a specialist, that first consultation has to be done in person or by video, and not by phone.
Dr. Richard Davies, spokesperson for the cardiologists association, says he’s very concerned that elderly patients who don’t use computers, or those without internet, will once again have to travel long distances to see a specialist for a referral. Davies is on the board of the Ontario Association of Cardiologists and is also the vice-chair of the OMA section on cardiology.
In its letter to the government, the association argued that “the new requirements do not acknowledge the current ‘digital divide’ i.e. inequality in patient access to technology in Ontario, and (will) force patients with limited digital literacy or without access to technology to obtain care differently and at greater expense than other patients.”
“It’s a tremendous burden,” says Davies. “Patients are usually exhausted by the whole experience. And then they’re scared as well, because even now they don’t like being in waiting rooms with lots of patients,” due to COVID.
Davies believes a consultation by phone is just as effective, something many specialists discovered during the pandemic. Doctors can get to know a patient, ask about their medical history and arrange tests before they have an in-person appointment.
“It’s about the patient and the relationship with the provider and making sure you have the information,” says Davies.
For more information, please contact:
Ontario Association of Cardiologists
34 Eglinton Ave. West, Suite 410
E-mail: [email protected]