Accessing face-to-face care from your living room: Middleton resident experiences ‘overall great service’ through VirtualCareNS
Kris Stojic and her husband moved to Middleton four years ago from Ontario. They added their names to the Need a Family Practice Registry once they were settled in their new home.
“We really love the valley area and feel very welcomed by the community here in Middleton, even though it has been a challenge to access care.”
Stojic recently received an email to participate in VirtualCareNS, an initiative to provide access to a family doctor or nurse practitioner through a computer or smartphone for people who don’t have a regular primary care provider.
“I signed up the day we got the email,” said Stojic. “I have had two appointments so far, and overall the experience has been great. I needed a prescription refill and a referral to an ophthalmologist, and I was able to get both of those.”
Prior to having access to VirtualCareNS, Stojic would access care at walk-in clinics or would seek advice from a pharmacist for minor health concerns.
She notes that it has been quite difficult during the pandemic to access primary care, when you have to call to book an appointment in advance.
“You have to call on a Thursday, and I’ve redialed 40 times before getting someone to make an appointment, if you can get through before all the appointments are gone for the week. It’s nice to now have the option to have a virtual appointment at home, and I hope when I get a [regular] family doctor that I will be able to continue to have virtual care with them.”
Stojic said that one of the things she really likes about VirtualCareNS is the flexibility.
“I’ve been on my computer for both appointments, and I was able to do other things while I waited to see the online doctor. It does take a little bit, so it’s important to stay online. I was able to make coffee and check a few emails, as the system keeps you informed as to what’s going on. When the doctor logs on, you get a message saying they are reviewing your information.”
She also said that it was easy to first get started with VirtualCareNS.
“I’m pretty comfortable with technology, so was able to do it easily. When I first went online, I got my account set up and uploaded some documents related to my medical condition. I would recommend that other patients have their documents on their computer ready to be added – I took pictures of mine and uploaded those so the doctor could review it. Then you are supposed to have your health care card and photo ID when you dial in.”
What Stojic likes most about VirtualCareNS is the ability to have a video conversation with the primary care provider.
“The doctor asked if I wanted to chat by video or by phone. Face to face is better. I was on a medication I wanted to change as it wasn’t working for me. I had done my research ahead of time, so when I talked to the doctor, I could explain my issue. We had had a lovely conversation, and I was satisfied with the outcome of a new medication for me to try. I definitely would like to get her again [for future appointments].”
For those on the Need a Family Practice Registry who have received an email to participate in VirtualCareNS but haven’t done so because they are hesitant about how it might work, Stojic recommends that they give it a try.
“It’s way better than having to sit in a walk-in waiting room for hours with other sick people. I got to sit in my living room, and overall received great service. Even if you aren’t confident on the computer, you will get used to where things are and then you will be fine.”
VirtualCareNS is an initiative of Nova Scotia Health, led by Research, Innovation and Discovery in partnership with Primary Health Care and a number of health system partners, and the Department of Health and Wellness. VirtualCareNS provides people on the Need a Family Practice registry with access to a primary care provider through their computer or mobile device. To learn more, visit www.virtualcareNS.ca.