New paediatric virtual urgent care program offers children and families digital front door to care
Your child is sick and you’re not sure how serious it is. Do they need to visit the emergency department? Is it safe to wait for an appointment with their primary care provider?
Starting today, a new virtual urgent care program at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) will help children and families determine what type of care is needed, access reliable health education resources and, for eligible patients, participate in live virtual urgent care visits, all from the comfort of home.
The virtual urgent care program is available from any smart phone, tablet or computer with internet through SickKids’ website. A secure 24/7 symptom checker tool will direct children and families to the most appropriate care setting based on the information they enter. This may include a visit to their local emergency department, the child’s primary care provider (paediatrician/family physician/nurse practitioner) along with relevant online health education resources or, for those who meet the eligibility criteria for the initial launch phase, a virtual urgent care visit with a member of the SickKids Emergency Department clinical team.
“We are pleased to offer this new program to children and families at a time when virtual care is more than just a convenient health-care option,” says Dr. Jason Fischer, Division Head of Paediatric Emergency Medicine at SickKids. “Our virtual urgent care program represents a digital front door to trusted, high-quality paediatric health services, and helps families avoid unnecessary in-person emergency department visits.”
Secure virtual urgent care visits for eligible patients are available by live videoconference seven days a week. During this initial launch phase, virtual urgent care visits with a member of the SickKids Emergency Department clinical team will only be available to children under 18 who have previously received care at SickKids, currently live in the virtual urgent care service region (PDF) and have a valid OHIP card.
In the future, new features will be added to the program and access will be expanded to more children and families.
“Through this initial launch phase and as we expand the program, we hope to better meet the needs of children, youth and families, strengthen connections between SickKids and primary-care providers in the community and create a more seamless health-care experience,” says Fischer.
This initiative received provincial funding to enhance the pandemic response through appropriate virtual care options, which are key in ensuring continuity of health services while preventing the spread of COVID-19.