**** HEALTH/WELLNESS-Media Release
Government Continues to Make Virtual Care an Option
The government is continuing to make virtual care options, such as telephone and videoconferencing, available for health professionals to connect with patients.
Physicians and regulated health professionals, including nurses, pharmacists, dentists, optometrists and others can continue to offer publicly funded services virtually until March 31, 2022. Virtual care will continue to complement in-person care.
One of the positive outcomes of the pandemic has been the success and popularity of these visits. For example, more than 1.5 million health-care services were provided virtually during the pandemic in 2020.
“Virtual care has been an important way for doctors and other health professionals to safely and effectively meet Nova Scotians’ health-care needs during the pandemic,” said Health and Wellness Minister Zach Churchill. “Continuing virtual care will ensure patients can continue to access a range of health services, while maintaining this option for practitioners.”
An evaluation of virtual health care will be completed before the extension ends to finalize a long-term approach.
Primary health care, mental health and addictions, and perioperative services have been identified as priority areas to expand virtual care access.
Broader virtual care is one of several measures introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic to strengthen the health system and support Nova Scotians and health care providers. Nova Scotia has been a leader in virtual care during the pandemic.
— virtual visits are provided via telephone, telehealth network or secure videoconferencing tools
— regulated health professionals who can provide publicly-funded virtual services include audiologists, counselling therapists, dental hygienists, dentists, dietitians, licensed practical nurses, midwives, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, optometrists, paramedics, pharmacists, physicians, physiotherapists, psychologists, recreation therapists, registered nurses, respiratory therapists, speech-language pathologists and social workers
Government of Nova Scotia Coronavirus website: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/
Province Partners with Federal Government to Expand Virtual Care
The Province of Nova Scotia is partnering with the Government of Canada to expand the province’s virtual care services.
Through a bilateral agreement, Nova Scotia will receive about $5.9 million from the federal government. This funding will allow the province to:
— improve access to e-mental health and addictions supports, including reaching vulnerable populations and enable language translation for websites
— invest in an online appointment booking for lab tests and other diagnostic services
— further develop the province’s virtual care strategy
“Virtual care has played a major role in Nova Scotia’s pandemic response and will continue to do so,” said Health and Wellness Minister Zach Churchill. “This funding will enhance access to health care, including e-mental health services, e-visits using secure video conferencing and messaging, and online booking of lab tests and diagnostic services.”
Broader virtual care is one of several measures introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic to strengthen the health system and support Nova Scotians and health-care providers.
The bilateral agreement includes an action plan on how the province will spend the funding.
“Now more than ever, Canadians need access to virtual health-care services to support their health. We are working with provinces and territories to support the rapid deployment of such services for Canadians, to ensure they can access the care they need, whenever they need it. Today’s investment will support Nova Scotia in its work to meet the health needs of Nova Scotians during this pandemic, through expanded virtual health services.”
– Patty Hajdu, federal Minister of Health
— the funding is part of a $240.5 million investment by the federal government to increase access to virtual services and digital tools, with $150 million of that funding to be provided to provinces and territories through targeted bilateral agreements
Canada-Nova Scotia bilateral agreement: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/corporate/transparency/health-agreements/bilateral-agreement-pan-canadian-virtual-care-priorities-covid-19.html
Nova Scotia’s action plan: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/corporate/transparency/health-agreements/bilateral-agreement-pan-canadian-virtual-care-priorities-covid-19/nova-scotia-action-plan.html