Vol. 2 No. 12 (2022)
Health Technology Reviews

Virtual Care Rapid Scoping: Main Report

Published December 7, 2022

Key Messages

  • We conducted rapid scoping of the literature, an adapted method of a scoping review, to quickly identify the available evidence and knowledge gaps for the clinical effectiveness, harms, implementation considerations, and guideline recommendations for virtual care.
  • We found 230 scoping reviews and 12 reports representing 11 evidence-based guidelines, all published between 2020 and 2022, about virtual health care involving remote communication between a health care provider and a person receiving care. Most scoping reviews focused on care for mental health, cardiovascular, and cancer-related conditions; and guidelines focused mostly on recommendations for cardiovascular, cancer, reproductive, and rheumatology-related conditions.
  • The scoping reviews mostly reported on how virtual care affects patient-focused outcomes and patients’ use of the health care system, and how patient and caregiver perspectives could be considered when using virtual care. There may be gaps in the existing evidence base for the effects of virtual care on changes in patients’ care plans and clinical harms for patients, and for the ethical aspects that could be considered when implementing virtual care. We found no scoping reviews that discussed environmental or climate considerations for virtual care use. Close to one-third of the scoping reviews referenced patients living in rural or remote settings, and 7% mentioned Indigenous Peoples.
  • All of the 11 guidelines provided clinical practice recommendations, and 8 of them provided other implementation recommendations. About half of the guidelines referenced patients living in rural or remote settings, and 1 guideline mentioned Indigenous Peoples. There may be gaps for guidelines that provide recommendations for primary health care and for those with certain conditions, such as mental health disorders and diabetes.