Mobile and Virtual care options increasing access to health care for Nova Scotians

Nova Scotia Health is providing Nova Scotians with increased ways to access care. The Mobile Primary Care Clinics and VirtualCareNS are two innovative models of care that have been implemented quickly in response to the need for primary care services. Informed by best practice evidence, they are being evaluated in real time to inform spread and scale across the province.

Launched in September 2022, the Mobile Primary Care Clinics are a temporary service that have been set up in Sydney, Digby, Weymouth, HRM (Mumford, Cobequid, and Dartmouth), Yarmouth and Antigonish.

Over the course of three months, close to 1600 patients have been seen at these clinics. The overall patient satisfaction for the clinics is 4.7/5, with comments indicating that the “service was very helpful”, “there was an excellent flow”, and that the “facilities, speed and availably were amazing.” The healthcare teams providing care at these clinics love the collaborative and innovative environment, which is being viewed as patient care at its best.

And, in response to cold and flu season, an additional mobile upper respiratory access clinic is being held in Antigonish. The clinic will be open twice a week until the end of December. In the initial two days, a total of 44 patients were seen.

More clinics are planned for locations throughout the province in the new year. Details can be found at https://www.nshealth.ca/mobileprimarycare.

Nova Scotians will also have access to more virtual appointments through VirtualCareNS. This will provide another way for patients to access care where they are.

In addition to the regular schedule, appointments will now be available on the following dates:

• January 4 and 11 until 7 p.m.
• December 31 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
• January 7, 8, 14, 15 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

All Nova Scotians on the Need a Family Practice Registry now have access to VirtualCareNS. To date, close to 39,000 people have chosen to make a virtual care visit, and there can be over 300 visits per day. The extended Sunday hours have resulted in 184 patients being seen over the course of two weeks, with an average satisfaction rating of 4.8/5. Patients have indicated that it was “convenient and easy to use,” they felt “listened to and that solutions were given”, and that they were “so grateful for this service. More information about VirtualCareNS can be found at https://www.nshealth.ca/content/virtualcarens.

“We are proud to be implementing these new and innovative models of care,” says Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy, Vice President, Research, Innovation and Discovery and Chief Nurse Executive with Nova Scotia Health. “The mobile primary care clinics and VirtualCareNS are a big step forward in ensuring that Nova Scotians have access to high quality care and highly skilled healthcare professionals.”