Virtual Care Visits

Last Updated: 2020-07-03

During this time where physical distancing is necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19, some Sinai Health clinics are offering care virtually by telephone or video.

You can reach out to your clinic or health care provider directly to discuss whether this is an option for you.

What is virtual care?

Virtual care allows you to speak with your health care team using a telephone, smartphone, tablet or your laptop/computer. You do not need to come to the hospital.

Sinai Health and other health care organizations across the province have been using videoconferencing provided by the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) for many years. At this time, virtual care options may also include other video conferencing technology, such as a secure version of Zoom, or a simple telephone conversation.

If a virtual care visit is appropriate for your situation, your care provider will discuss the different options available to you. Please note that video conferencing requires a stable internet connection and a device with a camera and a microphone.

What happens during a virtual care visit?

During a virtual care visit, your care provider may discuss with you your current health status, monitor your progress according to your care plan and answer any questions you may have regarding your condition. If your care provider feels that an in-person visit is needed, they will discuss your options and next steps with you.

How do I book a virtual care visit?

If you call or email to book an appointment at Sinai Health, we may suggest booking it as a virtual care visit. Your care team may call you to discuss changing your upcoming appointment to a virtual care visit. When a virtual care visit is appropriate, someone from your care team will speak with you about the options available to you for virtual care. For example, your virtual care visit could be through a telephone call, or a video call using systems such as OTN or a secure version of Zoom. The service used will depend on your care needs and the technology you and the clinic are able to access.

Your care provider will also ask for your verbal consent to participate in virtual care and may request an e-mail address so they can send you details about your virtual appointment.

If you have difficulty accessing these types of technology, please let your care team know so they can give you other options. In addition, if you need help using the technology that you have agreed on, please call or email your care team before your booked appointment so that they can help you get set up.

How do I prepare for a virtual care visit?

Your clinic or health care professional may ask you to prepare specific information before your visit, but here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Be available 15 minutes before and 30 minutes after the scheduled appointment time – please keep your video visit open as the doctor may be running late.
  • Please answer any calls from unknown or blocked phone numbers.
  • Have your full medication list (or bottles) and pharmacy information (address, phone, and fax number) ready.
  • If possible, find a private, quiet, well-lit, and spacious area for your visit.
  • Be sure your caregiver or family members are aware of the appointment date if they are needed to assist.
  • Have glasses, hearing aids, or walking aids nearby.
  • Be prepared to show any wounds or rashes.
  • Have a pen and paper ready.

Is virtual care safe and private?

Your privacy is very important to us. Similar to any in-person visit, we do our best to make sure that any information you give to us during a virtual care visit is private and secure.

Any electronic communication, including virtual care visits and e-mail, may have an increased risk that your health information can be intercepted by third parties through malware, phishing scams or other unauthorized access.

To help us keep your information safe, we request that you do the following:

  • Use your personal computer or device.
  • Use a secure internet connection at home. Do not use an internet connection in a public area, such as an airport, store, restaurant or library.
  • Use a secure personal email, if possible.  Do not use a work email address (your employer may have a right to access your work emails).
  • Some personal email services are not secure. If your email is not secure (or if you are not sure), do not use it to send sensitive personal health information to us. If you need to send personal health information to your care team at Sinai Health, please call them to talk about other options.
  • If you receive an email and are not sure if it is coming from your care team at Sinai Health, please call them to confirm before clicking on any links.

By agreeing to participate in virtual care, you are agreeing to let your health care provider collect, use and disclose your personal health information through e-mail, video and/or audio communications (while following applicable privacy laws) in order to provide you with care.

If you have any concerns about your privacy, please contact the Sinai Health Privacy Office at 416-586-4800 ext. 2101 or [email protected].

Can I decline virtual care?

You can decline or withdraw your consent for virtual care at any time by contacting your health care provider. Please understand that this may lead to delays in your care during the COVID-19 pandemic. To help protect our patients, employees and the community, only urgent in-person appointments are being offered at our hospitals at this time.

What do I do if I have additional questions?

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your clinic or health care provider directly.