Manitoba the only Canadian province without extended virtual care: Doctors Manitoba

Moving further into the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians in Manitoba are hoping changes can be made to the provinces current model for virtual care or telemedicine.

“Virtual care is new and was approved by the Manitoba government when the pandemic started in March,” said president of Doctors Manitoba, Dr. Corey Baillie.

“Now as the pandemic is lasting for months or perhaps longer than a year, patients and physicians would be much better served if virtual care was expanded to other areas in a way that is more consistent with what’s occurring in other provinces.”

Read more: Another Manitoban dies from coronavirus, 163 new cases reported Friday

In Manitoba, extended virtual care visits with doctors or specialists is currently not approved by the government. Manitoba is the only province yet to allow doctors to bill for such visits, causing concern for physicians.

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Doctors Manitoba says in the spring of 2020, during the first wave of the pandemic, there was a 20-per cent drop in extended in person family doctor visits with the elderly.

Physicians in the province say they’re not only concerned about their patients physical health, but also their mental health as we continue to ask residents to abide by physical distancing measures.

“During a scheduled phone appointment, we discussed their blood pressure issues, and adjusted some medications,” family physician Dr. Candance Bradshaw said.

“Then she confided in me that the appointment was booked by her very intentionally because that was her birthday, and she wanted to make sure the phone had a reason to ring.”

Dr. Bradshaw noted her elderly patients often need more time to talk about how they’re doing mentally, in addition to their physical conditions.

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For some specialists, conducting in-person appointments isn’t available.

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“Hospital restrictions can make it difficult especially for specialists who rely on hospital clinics for outpatient visits,” said Dr. Baillie.

“Their clinics have reopened but health authorities are certainly asking physicians to do as much care as they can virtually to decrease numbers in those hospital facility clinics.”

Both Doctors Manitoba and the province say they’re working with each other to make the virtual expansion possible. The province tells Global News they’re unable to give a timeline as to when it’ll be approved.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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