The pilot project that offered online emergency consultations with a nurse or doctor during the pandemic in Ontario had “no significant impact” on reducing hospital emergency room visits, a study by Toronto researchers concludes.
The study is based on the results of nearly 19,600 virtual emergency consultations that took place in Ontario from December 2020 to September 2021.
His conclusion: Patients referred to a hospital emergency room during their online consultation had one
similar health care utilization to those who presented directly to the emergency room.
Those who did not have medical follow-up after their virtual consultation did
a greater probability to be in the emergency room in person within 72 hours, 7 days and 30 days.
- 12.7% of patients visited a hospital emergency room 72 hours or less after their online consultation and 21.5% within 30 days.
- 2.1% of patients were hospitalized 72 hours or less after their virtual consultation, 3.8% within 30 days or less, and the length of their hospital stay was longer.
Shelley McLeod, hospital network epidemiologist Sinai Health and his team conclude in the report that virtual consultations are not a replacement for emergency care, but that they can be particularly useful for patients in remote areas and for non-fatal illnesses.
For patients with minor injuries or coughs or colds, virtual care may be a suitable alternative.
For little aches and pains
Dr. Justin Hall, co-author of the study and deputy chief of emergency services at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, agrees that if you have chest pain or respiratory symptoms, it’s best to go to the emergency room in person.
However, virtual consultations are possible
A great service for minor injuries or minor skin problemshe adds.
In his opinion, it is ideal if the patient has access to a family doctor or nurse so as not to have to constantly rely on emergency care.
Same story from Dr. Catherine Varner, emergency physician and deputy editor-in-chief of Journal of the Canadian Medical Association.
In her opinion, virtual consultations should, for example, be used to help children who do not have major health problems so that they do not end up in the emergency room of a hospital. It is to be avoided
Splits Emergency care that already exists, she said.
With information from CBC News’ Amina Zafar
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