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July 17, 2020

HQC to bring patients, health care providers together for virtual care discussion

When positive COVID-19 cases began appearing in Saskatchewan, health care providers embraced virtual methods as a safe way to maintain access to care. Similarly, patients adapted to using technology to stay connected with their physicians when in-person visits were no longer recommended. 

Now, conversations are taking place at various levels within the health system about the use of virtual care – including between physicians, on a public scale with patients, and with policy makers.

In order to bring the various perspectives together, the Saskatchewan Health Quality Council (HQC) is hosting a webinar on Aug. 6 at 7 p.m. entitled Quality Improvement in Health Care Panel: Patient and Provider Experiences with Virtual Care in Saskatchewan during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond. This event will feature a panel of patients and physicians who will share their experiences with virtual care and explore the impact it has had in Saskatchewan from a quality improvement perspective.

While the long-term impacts of virtual care in the province is still unknown, HQC CEO Tracey Sherin said it is important to listen to the experiences of all people within Saskatchewan’s health care system as part of the learning process.

“What is challenging for a physician isn’t necessarily what is going through a patient’s mind, and vice versa. The goal of this panel discussion is to unpack the positive and negative experiences around virtual care, so together, we can figure out what this looks like for Saskatchewan moving forward,” Sherin said, noting HQC strives to create collaborative environments where stakeholders can work together on shared outcomes.

“By acting as a connecter between these groups and perspectives, our hope is to facilitate conversations that help our stakeholders make positive change happen faster in the health care system.”

The event will be hosted by Steven Lewis, Adjunct Professor of Health Policy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, and will feature Saskatchewan family physicians who use virtual care, as well as patient and family advisors.

Panelists include: 

  • Dr. Paul Acheampong, Consultant Physician and Assistant Professor, Saskatchewan Health Authority and University of Saskatchewan 
  • Heather Dyck, Patient Partner 
  • Gordon Mayer, Patient Partner 
  • Dr. Ivar Mendez, Professor and Provincial Head of the Department of Surgery, Saskatchewan Health Authority and University of Saskatchewan 
  • Dr. Janet Tootoosis, Family physician; Site director for North Battleford Family Medical Residency Training Program, University of Saskatchewan 

Lewis noted that while virtual care has been a viable form of service delivery for some time, the pandemic accelerated its mainstream use.

“Virtual care is hardly new, but in the space of weeks the unthinkable happened: It became the dominant practice norm,” Lewis said, adding he is looking forward to hearing the perspectives of the panelists. “Is it an unavoidable and temporary stopgap solution during the pandemic, or is this a revolutionary moment for medical practice? Where is virtual care better and where is it inferior? I’m really looking forward to hearing patients’ and doctors’ reflections on the virtual care experience, and their concerns and hopes for the future.”