Virtual program brings specialists, ER doctors to remote B.C. communities 24/7

ByJennifer Palma  & Simon Little   Global News Posted July 31, 2021

Virtual tools are becoming more deeply integrated into British Columbia’s health system, and residents of remote, rural communities are seeing some of the biggest benefits.

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Some medical doctors are making themselves available 24/7 to remote communities in B.C. As Jennifer Palma reports, the real time virtual support program is helping to keep emergency rooms open and retain medical talent. – Jul 30, 2021

Atlin, a town of fewer than 500 just south of the Yukon border, is one of those communities. Whitehorse, more than 170 kilometres away, is the nearest major centre, and residents often struggle to access doctors and specialists.


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The community is now making use of RTVS — real-time virtual support — a program that launched in April 2020, which puts a pool of 200 specialists and physicians, including ER doctors, at their fingertips 24 hours a day.

“It’s been enhancing our practice and the lives of our community on a daily basis, pretty much,” Atlin nurse Jen Stronge said.

In past emergency cases, Stronge would have to call the ER in Whitehorse, and then wait in a queue for a doctor to return her call when possible.

With the RTVS system, she’s able to do it instantaneously.

“What it’s like in downtown Vancouver versus what it’s like on the central coast or north coast is very different,” said Dr. John Pawlovich, virtual health lead for the Rural Coordination Centre of B.C.

“This is an attempt to address equity in how care and support both for patients and healthcare professionals looks in the 21st century.”

To read more, click on: Virtual program brings specialists, ER doctors to remote B.C. communities 24/7