Mainstreet Medical Services in Lacombe has shifted their patient care to being 90 per cent virtual due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy: Mainstreet Medical Services)

Mainstreet Medical Services in Lacombe has shifted their patient care to being 90 per cent virtual due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy: Mainstreet Medical Services)

Lacombe clinic shifts to over 90% virtual due to COVID-19

Doctors at Mainstreet Medical say knowing patient histories vital to telehealth patient care

Mainstreet Medical Services has been forced to change due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with over 90 per cent of their interactions now temporarily virtual.

Joan Tancock, clinic manager, provided answers from the clinic’s physicians on how the crisis has changed patient care in Lacombe.

Tancock said in the email have chosen to use telephone health over trendy apps like Zoom or Microsoft Teams due to possible unforeseen security issues.

“Things are secure until someone decides they are not and this is not acceptable for patient confidentiality when we have a secure telephone to use,” the email stated, added immobile or disabled patients can still access care because often have means to use the telephone.

Tancock’s email went on to state that if a patient absolutely needs to be seen in person, the clinic is arranging those visits with precaution. In these cases, staff members wear full PPE and screen them COVID-19 risk factors.

If they have these factors, further precautions including the patient wearing a mask. are taken to ensure the safety of everyone who may be in the building.

“Patients are immediately taken to their exam room (no waiting in the waiting room) and if their exam room is not ready, then they are asked to wait in their vehicle and are phoned/texted when their room is available,” the email said.

“Rooms are fully wiped down/cleaned in-between patients. As per AH recommendations all our staff are wearing masks any time, they have patient contact.”

The email stated that doctors are able to apply a billing code for the duration of the pandemic for telephone health.

Tancock’s email said her doctors have chosen not to endorse and have concerns for the patient use of Babylon by Telus Health, which is currently being promoted by the Government of Alberta.

“We Lacombe physicians are ready and available to meet with our patients virtually and we can provide more comprehensive care since we have access to their full medical records and we know their histories well,” the email stated.

“We would advise against the use of the Babylon platform when patients can access their own physicians easily by making an appointment for a virtual visit.”

Tancock’s email stated that their patients have given them positive feedback on their telehealth service and the clinic has been providing patients with with prescriptions by faxing them to local pharmacies.

Despite the positive feedback, Tancock’s email stated virtual telehealth is not a long-term solution for patient health in Lacombe.

“Face to face contact is vital to a good safe family practice. We hope this will soon be over,” the email stated.

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