Virtual Care NS

Virtual Care NS provides free, temporary access to primary health care for people on the Need a Family Practice Registry. Through Virtual Care NS, people on the registry can make a virtual health appointment for their health care needs. Learn more about Virtual Care NS and what kind of appointments are available by reading the information in the drop-down menus below.

To participate in Virtual Care NS, you need to:

  • Be on the Need a Family Practice Registry
  • Have a valid Nova Scotia Health Card number,
  • Be able to access the internet through a computer or mobile device,
  • Have an e-mail address, and
  • Be located within the province when accessing Virtual Care NS.
     

 

All individuals on the Need a Family Practice Registry are now eligible to register for Virtual Care NS. If you have recently added your name to the Need a Family Practice Registry, you will have access to VirtualCareNS in two weeks and can register using the button above. If you are not on the Need a Family Practice Registry, please call 811 or register online.
 

 

If you have an existing account with Virtual Care NS, click the button above to log in.

If you have an existing Maple account, click here to convert your existing Maple account to a free VirtualCareNS account. If you are having trouble converting your account, please email support@getmaple.ca.

 If you are being asked to pay for your appointment, you are not logged into Virtual Care NS.

Please note:
Sometimes there can be more appointment requests than available providers, similar to in-person care. At times, the wait to see a provider may take up to three hours. If you receive a message that VCNS is “at capacity”, please try again later in the day as spots will open up.

 

More about this program

Registration

Do I need to receive an email invitation in order to join Virtual Care NS?

No. As of August 31, 2022, everyone on the Need a Family Practice Registry is eligible to join Virtual Care NS. If you have recently added your name to the Need a Family Practice Registry, you will have access to Virtual Care NS in approximately two weeks. Click on the “Register Now” button at the top of this page to join Virtual Care NS.

How do I register for Virtual Care NS?

  1. Ensure you are registered with the Need a Family Practice Registry. If you are not on the Need a Family Practice Registry, please call 811 or register online.
  2. Click here to register for Virtual Care NS. Please note, if you have recently signed up for the Need a Family Practice Registry, you will have access to Virtual Care NS in approximately two weeks.
  3. Enter your Nova Scotia health card number.
  4. Create your account: You will need to create an account with Maple. Follow the prompts on the screen to complete your registration, which includes adding information about your health history. Watch this video on how to add your health history.
  5. Once registered, you can now request an appointment with a primary care provider.

If you are an adult who has a child or children under the age of 16 who are also on the registry, you can add them to your Virtual Care NS profile (watch this how-to video). This enables you to keep your family’s medical records in one location.

This step by step guide to using VirtualCareNS (.pdf) provides information on how to create your account, how to manage your account, how to request a virtual visit, and how to review your virtual visit.

Hours

Virtual Care NS is available on:

Monday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tuesday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wednesday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Weekends and holidays: Closed

Please note: Sometimes there can be more appointment requests than available providers, similar to in-person care. At times, the wait to see a provider may take up to three hours. If you are unable to connect to a provider, please try again the next day. It’s also important to plan ahead. For example, if you need a prescription renewed, request a virtual visit a few weeks before your medication runs out (or see your community pharmacist). There are many options to access primary care in the community. See a list of where to go for health care in your area online at nshealth.ca/wheretogoforhealthcare.

What to expect 

Having an online appointment through Virtual Care NS is similar to an in-person medical appointment. The family doctors and nurse practitioners provide care and health advice for many common health needs. They can prescribe medications, order tests, and make referrals to in-person and specialized care. 

Common reasons for virtual appointments include:

  • Asthma (mild to moderate)
  • Back, joint, or muscle aches and pains
  • Cold and flu
  • Earaches and sore throat
  • Eye irritation and infections
  • Injuries: cuts, bruises, sprains, minor wounds
  • Mental health
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Prescription renewals (controlled substances are not prescribed)
  • Referrals to health care providers or services (e.g. blood test)
  • Sexual health
  • Skin irritations: rashes, hives, bites/stings, and minor allergic reactions
  • Urinary problems

If your health concern can’t be resolved virtually or if the primary care provider determines that you need to be seen face-to-face, they will refer you to the nearest Primary Care Clinic for in-person care with another primary health care professional as needed. You will be contacted to schedule an appointment based on the clinic’s availability. This can take time. Nova Scotia Health staff are doing their best to coordinate your care as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience.

If you need assistance from an interpreter during the appointment, the primary care provider can access Nova Scotia Health’s Language Line service, available in more than 200 languages.

Virtual Care NS providers

The family doctors and nurse practitioners who provide care through Virtual Care NS are licensed and located in Nova Scotia.

Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with advanced knowledge and education in primary health care. Learn more about nurse practitioners.

How to start a Virtual Care NS appointment

  1. Ensure you are registered for Virtual Care NS. You can register here.
  2. Sign in to Virtual Care NS, either through the Maple app on your smart device or on your computer at www.getmaple.ca.
  3. Click on the Get Care button.
  4. Confirm your location.
  5. Describe your symptoms. You can select from a list, and also write in more detail.
  6. Click on Continue to Pairing, which will put you in line for the next available primary care provider. The family doctor or nurse practitioner will be with you soon.
  7. The primary care provider will send you a message asking if you want to have a video appointment, or if would prefer to speak over the phone.
  8. The appointment will start. The family doctor or nurse practitioner will begin the appointment (either by video or by phone). It will be very similar to an in-person appointment, where you discuss your health concern with the primary care provider.

This step by step guide to using VirtualCareNS (.pdf) provides information on how to create your account, how to manage your account, how to request a virtual visit, and how to review your virtual visit.

Please note: Sometimes there can be more appointment requests than available providers, similar to in-person care. At times, the wait to see a provider may take up to three hours. If you are unable to connect to a provider, please try again the next day. It’s also important to plan ahead. For example, if you need a prescription renewed, request a virtual visit a few weeks before your medication runs out (or see your community pharmacist). There are many options to access primary care in the community. See a list of where to go for health care in your area online at nshealth.ca/wheretogoforhealthcare.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I requested a virtual appointment but was not connected with a primary care provider. What should I do?
    Sometimes there can be more appointment requests than available providers, similar to in-person care. At times, the wait to see a provider may take up to three hours. If you are unable to connect to a provider, please try again the next day. It’s also important to plan ahead. For example, if you need a prescription renewed, request a virtual visit a few weeks before your medication runs out (or see your community pharmacist). There are many options to access primary care in the community. See a list of where to go for health care in your area online at nshealth.ca/wheretogoforhealthcare.
     
  2. Why does Virtual Care NS look like Maple?
    Nova Scotia Health has partnered with Maple to provide the technology for this program. The family doctors and nurse practitioners who participate in Virtual Care NS through the Maple platform are licensed and located in Nova Scotia. 
     
  3. Do I have to pay to use Virtual Care NS?
    No. This program is covered by Nova Scotia Health and is free for people on the Need a Family Practice Registry. If you are being asked for payment, you may be signed into Maple’s pay-for-service app rather than Virtual Care NS.
     
  4. Will I get the same primary care provider each time?
    No. When you request an appointment through Virtual Care NS, you will be connected to the next available primary care provider. The family doctor or nurse practitioner will be able to see the record of your previous virtual visit.
     
  5. Can I still use Virtual Care NS now that I have found a family doctor?
    No. Virtual Care NS provides temporary access to primary care for people who are on the Need a Family Practice Registry until they find a family doctor or nurse practitioner. It is not intended to replace having regular access to a family practice.
     
  6. What other options are there to access care?
  • Make an appointment at a Primary Care Clinic; these clinics provide short-term primary medical care for people on the Need a Family Practice Registry.
  • Call 811 to speak with a registered nurse for health advice.
  • Speak with your pharmacist, who can treat minor health concerns.
  • Visit MyHealthyNS.ca for online health and wellness information.
  • Visit MHAhelpNS.ca to access online mental health tools and information.
  • See a list of where to go for health care in your area online at nshealth.ca/wheretogoforhealthcare.

Patient Testimonials

If you would like to be featured in a story about your positive experience accessing care through Virtual Care NS, please email virtualcarens@nshealth.ca.

What patients are saying about Virtual Care NS:

“Virtual Care NS was so user friendly. I requested an appointment from my computer and within ten minutes I received a response to say that the doctor was on standby. We talked for over 20 minutes … it was just a really fabulous experience.”

“I have had two appointments so far, and overall the experience has been great. I needed a prescription refill and a referral…, and I was able to get both of those.”

“It only took about 30 minutes from the time it took me to submit a request through the app, to the physician reviewing my request, to him sending me a message, and then we spent 15 minutes on the phone. I was even able to send my prescription to my preferred pharmacy for me to pick up later - all through the app!” 

Virtual Care NS Patient Stories

A number of Nova Scotians on the Need a Family Practice Registry who have tried Virtual Care NS have shared their positive experiences about accessing care online. Read their stories:

Ian: Virtual Care NS exceeds Yarmouth resident’s expectations

Patty: Virtual Care NS transforming access to care for Surettes Island resident

Barrie: Virtual Care NS providing convenient access to care for Canaan resident

Pamela: ‘The fact that I am being followed-up on is huge’: New Glasgow resident grateful for Virtual Care NS

Kris: Accessing face-to-face care from your living room: Middleton resident experiences ‘overall great service’ through Virtual Care NS

Annette: Virtual Care NS providing convenient access to care for Nova Scotians

Dr. Adam Rostis and Laurie Williams: Nova Scotia Health AGM Video – Virtual Care NS

Technology Requirements

To access Virtual Care NS on the Maple platform, you will need a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. The device you are using will need to have a camera (for video), microphone and a speaker. Most mobile devices and laptops already have these features built in.

Mobile devices: Download the Maple - 24/7 Online Doctors app (from the app store)

Computers and laptops: Use a modern browser such as Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari when visiting www.getmaple.ca.

Your device also needs to be connected to the internet. If you are using a mobile device, it is recommended that you connect to Wi-Fi, as video appointments use a lot of data.

Support Options

For technical issues with Virtual Care NS, contact the software company that provides this technology, Maple, directly using the chat function, either through the app or at the bottom right of your computer screen. You can also visit Maple’s Help Centre, or email support@getmaple.ca.

This step by step guide to using VirtualCareNS (.pdf) provides information on how to create your account, how to manage your account, how to request a virtual visit, and how to review your virtual visit.

For general inquiries about Virtual Care NS, please contact virtualcarens@nshealth.ca.

In Person Support Options

We understand that there can be barriers to accessing virtual health appointments. We are working on expanding our current in person support offerings. There are currently two options for accessing in person support for VirtualCareNS:

  1. Virtual Care @ Your Library is a pilot program in Pictou County that reduces their barriers by providing private spaces and in-person support for virtual appointments and registering for Virtual Care NS. This program is currently being offered at three branches of the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library (PARL), in partnership with the Nova Scotia government and the Aberdeen Health Foundation.
  2. Additional support is available at the Bear River & Area Community Health Clinic. The clinic has safe and secure rooms and the technology available for confidential VirtualCareNS appointments with a family doctor or nurse practitioner. A trained staff member will be on-site to help you register for the program and access your virtual appointment. Learn more by calling 902-467-3611, or visiting the clinic at 1112 River Road, Bear River, NS, B0S 1B0.

Feedback Survey

We are seeking feedback from individuals who have registered for and accessed VirtualCareNS. To help us improve this service, we would appreciate your participation in a short anonymous survey which contains only three questions. Please complete the survey here.

About Virtual Care NS

Virtual Care NS provides temporary access to primary medical care for people who are on the Need a Family Practice Registry until they find a family doctor or nurse practitioner. It is not intended to replace having regular access to a family practice. Participating in Virtual Care NS does not affect your spot on the registry.

Virtual Care NS is an initiative of Nova Scotia Health, led by the Nova Scotia Health Innovation Hub in partnership with Primary Health Care and a number of health system partners, and the Department of Health and Wellness.

Nova Scotia Health has partnered with Maple to provide the technology for this program. The family doctors and nurse practitioners who participate in Virtual Care NS through the Maple platform are licensed and located in Nova Scotia. 

For general inquiries about Virtual Care NS, please contact virtualcarens@nshealth.ca.

Please note: Sometimes there can be more appointment requests than available providers, similar to in-person care. At times, the wait to see a provider may take up to three hours. If you are unable to connect to a provider, please try again the next day. It’s also important to plan ahead. For example, if you need a prescription renewed, request a virtual visit a few weeks before your medication runs out (or see your community pharmacist). There are many options to access primary care in the community. See a list of where to go for health care in your area online at nshealth.ca/wheretogoforhealthcare.

If you are looking for more information about how you can use a virtual care platform with your health care provider, see Nova Scotia Health’s virtual care resources page.