In an effort to enhance the health care system and reduce hallway wait times, Ontario is expanding its digital and virtual health care services.

The Ontario government announced on Wednesday that the new Digital First for Health strategy will offer more choices and make health care simpler and more convenient for patients. 

The Digital First for Health strategy, once it is fully implemented, can have patients and health care providers expect:

  1. More virtual care options: visits with health care professionals can be done virtually through video visits, and secure messaging.
  2. Expanded access to online appointment booking
  3. Greater data access for patients: patients will be able to review their secure health record online in order to make informed choices about their health care.
  4. Better, more connected tools for frontline providers: health care professionals will be able to access patient records stored across multiple health care providers.
  5. Data integration and predictive analytics: health care providers, due to better data integration, will be able to manage health resources and improve patient care – potentially leading to improvements such as earlier intervention and better management of chronic disease.

The first phase of the strategy will increase the availability of virtual care with approximately 55,000 more video visits of physicians with patients over the next year. Additionally, the first phase will enable Ontario Health Teams to integrate patient records, so patients won’t need to continue to retell their information each visit.

It has been estimated that two-thirds of Canadians are interested in consulting with various health care providers virtually. Video visits will still not be appropriate for every type of doctor’s visit, but patients will be able to discuss virtual visits with their doctors.

For more information, see the news release