Virtual Visits and Telephone Appointments
We are now offering Virtual Visits (video) and Telephone appointments for patients, families and caregivers. This has been accelerated in the time of the COVID-19 public health crisis. We want to keep the number of people coming to our clinic to a minimum, for everyone’s safety and to help “flatten the curve”.
To download a .pdf file of this information please click here
How Does it Work?
During this time we are only seeing urgent appointments in our clinic. However, if you had an appointment scheduled with one of our paediatricians, our admin team can offer a time for the paediatrician to call you on the phone, or invite you to meet over a video conferencing site over the internet. Currently, our paediatricians are using OTN, which is a service provided by the Province of Ontario. We may be able to offer video connections such as Skype or FaceTime, but these are in development. To set up an OTN videoconference, the paediatrician would send you an email invite (OTNinvite) by email at a specific date and time. Using a link in that email, you can connect to OTN (at that specific date and time) through a secure video connection through the internet.
We have prepared a handout to help you connect with your OTNinvite appointment: please click here
What is the difference between Virtual and Clinic Visits?
It is important to remember that a virtual visit cannot replace an in person clinic visit. The paediatrician will be able to see the patient, and discuss the issue. However, it will not be able to check height, weight, blood pressure, etc.. And of course the paediatrician will not be able to physically assess the patient like would be possible in the clinic. Still, there is much that is possible in a video visit, and it may be a very convenient and "social distance" appropriate way for your patient to see a paediatrian in this time. Some health concerns can be addressed with virtual care alone, but in some cases the doctor may ask you/your child to visit a hospital or other health care facility if necessary (for example, for a physical examination).
Things to Consider Before Arranging a Video Visit
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. Here are some things to help us keep your information safe and secure:
- Remember that emails, calls, or texts you receive are 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 someone else's computer/device)and a secure internet connection. For example, using a personal and encrypted internet connection is more secure than an open or unencrypted wireless connection in your home or a public wireless connection.
- You should also understand that electronic communication 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).
Still Have Questions or Concerns?
Please don't hesitate to contact our office by phone if you have questions. If you do not wish to have a video or telephone appointment, you can ask our office to arrange for you/your child to visit a health-care provider or other health-care center where you/your child 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. Once this time has passed, we will return to seeing non-urgent appointments in person at our clinic.
Think You Are Ready to Give Video Visits a Try?
By providing your/your child’s information, you agree to let us collect, use, or disclose your/your child’s personal health information through video or audio communications (while following applicable privacy laws) in order to provide you/your child with care. In particular, the following means of electronic communication may be used:
- Email (to be determined we will have an address we have created specifically in this time – we do not send or receive any medical information by email, we use it only to send information to help arrange some of our virtual visits, and send you information)
- Videoconferencing via website/portal (we are using OTN, and OTNinivite to video conference with patients and caregivers in their homes)
- Other forms of Videoconferencing (we are exploring using Skype and FaceTime)
- Text messaging (we use a text message reminder service for appointments, we do not offer two-way texting with admin staff or paediatricians)