Vol. 1 No. 6 (2021)
Horizon Scans

An Overview of Direct-to-Patient Virtual Visits in Canada

Published June 7, 2021

Key Messages

  • Direct-to-patient virtual visits are a way of providing health care to patients in their location of choice, using technology (e.g., phone, text messaging, video conferencing).
  • The use of virtual visits has the potential to overcome many of the barriers associated with in-person care, including improved access, convenience, and cost savings.
  • Many communities that are underserved by in-person care also face barriers to virtual care. There is a risk that current health inequities will be exacerbated if barriers such as, for example, reliable access to an internet-connected device, technology literacy, and language barriers are not addressed.
  • Virtual visits have been used safely and effectively for many types of health care visits.
  • There is a lack of evidence on the cost-effectiveness of virtual visits.
  • Regulations regarding the provision of virtual visits are needed to uphold equitable access to publicly funded health care as mandated by the Canada Health Act.