At Women’s College Hospital we are revolutionizing healthcare for the 21st century to deliver better access, improved outcomes and next level patient experience. As part of our commitment to innovation and continual improvement, we launched Women’s Virtual, Canada’s first virtual hospital, in November 2019.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have accelerated our virtual care capabilities to ensure that we are able to care for patients safely and respond to the needs of our community during this public health emergency.
Virtual Care Programs
Working with our health system partners, WCH has developed a series of virtual care programs focused on enhancing care, as well as supporting and working with providers in primary care and long-term care.
As demand on acute care resources including emergency departments and inpatient beds increase, most symptomatic yet stable patients need to monitor their COVID-19 symptoms at home. An innovative, primary care led initiative, COVIDCare@Home is building practical digital pathways and tools for primary care providers as they support their patients with COVID-19.
COVIDCare@Home provides real-time support to primary care providers and patients through phone or video visits, and practical tools that providers can use to monitor their own patients if they prefer to do so. Remote monitoring of patients with COVID-19 allows providers to ensure that patients receive the education support they need, and it also enables them to act quickly and escalate care should a patient's health deteriorates.
A virtual care hub housed at WCH puts just-in-time resources in the hands of providers enabling them to better address their patient’s medical, mental health and social needs. This includes remote home monitoring equipment, immediate virtual specialist consultation, coordination of home-based services and more.
To learn more, please visit: CovidCareatHome.ca.
The SCOPE program provides primary care providers with a single point of access to a virtual interdisciplinary care team. Family physicians and nurse practitioners registered with SCOPE can connect to local specialists, imaging, and community services, to serve their patients with complex care needs.
To learn more, please visit the SCOPE webpage.
Aging in Place
Our Aging in Place program partners with long-term care (LTC) homes and community providers to allow older adults to age at home, where they want to be.
Our first Aging in Place initiative is LTC+, a virtual care program that connects LTC nursing staff and physicians to virtual consultations with medical specialists 24/7 and advanced practice nursing. The initiative also provides the LTC team with access to other services, such as the availability of STAT labs and community paramedicine, that enables them to provide high-quality care to residents in the LTC home setting and avoid unnecessary transfers to hospitals.
As we all now know, seniors and those with compromised immune systems need to be particularly careful during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reducing unnecessary ED transfers is an important step towards protecting their health and reducing the spread of COVID-19. LTC+ will be available to all 37 LTC homes in the Toronto area.
Virtual Care Services
Women’s Virtual is integrating a variety of digital health tools, like online peer support groups and video visits, into WCH’s existing clinical areas in a phased approach over the next three years. Enabling WCH to enhance our health services and ensure that patients get care in whichever way best addresses their needs.
Part of our virtual strategy is ensuring that patients who need care continue to receive it in a manner that is safe and responsive without having to leave home. Today the majority of our clinics are virtually enabled via phone, video or secure messaging. These services have been ramped up in response to COIVD-19.
Most of our clinics across the hospital are utilizing video visits to enhance access and continuity of care for patients. To learn how to conduct a video visit, please visit the video visits instructions page.
eConsult allows physicians and nurse practitioners to connect virtually with specialist colleagues to gain advice on patient care. Leveraging this tool, allows providers to get
timely advice and often eliminates the need for an in-person specialist visit. WCH is the regional lead for eConsult in the Toronto central region. In this role, our Women’s Virtual team works to on-board and support providers in using this digital tool.
To learn more, visit: econsultontario.ca/
Women's Virtual FAQs
What is Women’s Virtual?
Women’s Virtual at Women’s College Hospital is leveraging technology to build Canada’s first virtual hospital. By using digital health tools and virtual models of care, we are re-imagining how healthcare is delivered making it more accessible, responsive and equitable.
What is a virtual hospital?
A virtual hospital allows us to treat and care for patients in the setting most appropriate for them, that could be at home or it could be at the hospital. Leveraging digital tools, like video visits and online peer support groups, helps us provide care in a way that best addresses your specific patient needs.
How is Women’s Virtual unique?
We have a comprehensive virtual care strategy that is being implemented and scaled across multiple areas in the hospital. As a result, virtual care can be incorporated throughout each patient’s journey. We believe that by building a core common virtual care infrastructure across our hospital we will be able to offer all of our patients, staff and physicians a truly innovative care experience.
How will Women’s Virtual enhance my care at WCH?
Patients want modern healthcare that fits into their day-to-day lives and is tailored to their needs. Additionally, we know that taking time off work, spending money on transit or parking and finding childcare when visiting the hospital are all barriers to receiving timely and convenient healthcare.
Women’s Virtual is delivering care that is more responsive, more equitable and better integrated into patients’ lives. For example, women enrolled in our reproductive life stages program, a mental health program for mothers facing post-partum depression, are juggling the responsibilities that come with becoming a parent. Video visits offer them additional flexibility and gives them back time.
What if I am not interested in virtual care and prefer to see my care team in-person?
We know that virtual care will not necessarily be the right fit for each patient. It will be up to healthcare providers and their patients to determine if a digital tool best supports their care needs.
Can my care be a combination of virtual and in-person?
Women’s Virtual will not eliminate in-person care. All patients will experience a combination of in-person and virtual care. You will find that if you do come in for a face-to-face visit, it’s because it’s the best way to address your health needs. When other forms of care are available, like video visits, and they are as good or better than in-person care, than we will have those options available for you.
How is Women’s Virtual protecting my personal health information?
Protecting your personal health information is very important to us. WCH uses a variety of physical, administrative and technical methods to protect your personal health information from unauthorized access, use, copying, modification or disclosure. Some of these include using the myHealthRecord patient portal as a secure way of delivering care. Just like other online technology, virtual care tools have privacy and security risks that may result in a breach of your information. WCH continually monitors, reviews, and updates its practices to ensure the privacy and security of confidential information.
Please see our virtual visit FAQs for more information.
How will this initiative reduce pressure on the health system?
Women’s Virtual will reduce health system pressure in two key ways:
- The first is through our aging in place program. Many seniors find themselves in the emergency department unnecessarily, simply because an alternative option doesn’t exist. Our program provides an alternative care pathway so that seniors at our partnering long-term care homes are provided with a substitute to the emergency, freeing up hospital beds at our nearby hospital partners.
- Second, as we re-envision patient care through the use of digital tools and new models of care, our patients will develop a better understanding of their chronic conditions and will be enabled to better manage their illness or recovery from home. This ensures that patients care stay healthier for longer and helps to reduce avoidable complications.
How will Women’s Virtual improve access to healthcare and to specialist care for more people?
Virtual care brings healthcare directly to the patient. As a result, it has strong benefits for patients who face barriers traveling to the hospital in-person, like those living in rural and remote communities or those with mobility difficulties. For example, patients living in rural or remote communities often find specialist care, like mental health care, difficult to access locally. Video visits and online support groups enable patients to receive mental health care from their homes.
Virtual Revolution - Heather's CEO Blog
Virtual Care - We Are Women's Report
How WCH is Leveraging Virtual Care to Address COVID-19 - WCH Connect