London Drugs reports popularity of telehealth

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Seven in ten say the pandemic has shown them that virtual visits can be effective.

 VANCOUVER – Virtual health care has quickly become the new normal among British Columbians, according to a new survey conducted by Insights West on behalf of London Drugs. Sixty-five per cent say they are now more likely to choose virtual-care rather than in-person visits for simple or routine health advice. Seven in ten (73%) attribute this to COVID-19, indicating that the pandemic has shown them that virtual appointments can be effective. Six in ten (57%) have had a virtual appointment with a medical professional since the start of the pandemic and around the same number (58%) say they will continue to use virtual appointments even when after COVID-19 is no longer a concern.

Chris Chiew

Chris Chiew

“Connecting with healthcare professionals via video call has gone from a necessary safety measure to the new normal,” says Chris Chiew, general manager of Pharmacy, London Drugs. “Due to COVID-19, more British Columbians experienced virtual-care visits than ever before and most have a favorable impression of the care and convenience. This will have far-reaching impacts on patient preferences and the delivery of healthcare beyond the pandemic.”

British Columbians want more access to virtual care options beyond pandemic 

An overwhelming majority in the province feel that virtual health options reduce wait times and increase convenience of health care (82%) and help provide better access to health care (79%). Two-thirds feel that it will improve health outcomes for patients (66%) and a similar number believe that expanding access to virtual care in the province will improve their personal health and their family’s health (65%).

With rapid adoption and preference toward virtual healthcare options in the province, London Drugs has launched a new service partnering with Medimap allowing patients to see a physician by video conference in private consultation rooms within the pharmacy.

Now available at ten London Drugs locations in British Columbia with plans for further expansion, patients using the new Telemedicine Walk-in service will be able to receive refills for non-narcotic medications as well as other prescriptions like antibiotics and birth control with one visit to the pharmacy. Patients can also book Telemedicine appointments for specialist referrals where a clinical examination is not required. They can also receive mental health counselling, consultations regarding skin issues, allergies, eye infections, some gastrointestinal issues as well as non-anaphylactic allergic reactions.

“Pharmacists are the most accessible health care providers and our work often requires a team-based approach. Now patients can see a physician, consult with a pharmacist, get their prescription and receive follow-up care all in one place using the Telemedicine Walk-in service,” says Chiew. “This is a significant benefit not only from a convenience perspective but also from a care perspective because collaboration among doctors and pharmacists ultimately improves patient outcomes.”

British Columbians welcome increased access to virtual care, with seven in ten (68%) indicating accessing virtual doctor visits in their local pharmacy would be convenient, particularly if they can see their doctor and, if necessary, receive their prescription all in the same place. Eight in ten (79%) believe that having virtual medical appointments as an option will help the medical system provide better access to healthcare overall.

British Columbians will soon be able to have access to a doctor virtually from home via London Drugs Telemedicine Service at Home

 In March, London Drugs together with Medimap, will launch London Drugs’ Telemedicine Service At-Home allowing patients in BC to connect with a doctor from the comfort of home. The Telemedicine service is a safe and convenient way for patients to consult on issues that do not require seeing a doctor in person. If a prescription is required, the doctor will forward the request to the patient’s London Drugs store of choice for the prescription pick-up. When utilizing the Telemedicine service at home, patients will have access to a physician, consultation with a pharmacist, prescription service, and follow-up care all in one place.

Pharmacists warn not to delay medical care or prescription renewals because of COVID-19

According to the survey, over one-quarter (27%) of British Columbians have put off or canceled medical care as a result of COVID-19. These statistics don’t bode well for patient health, according to Chiew.

“Whether it’s something simple or more serious, do not delay medical care or prescription renewals because of COVID-19,” he says. “Skipping appointments, letting prescriptions lapse, getting off track with medications or simply not seeking medical attention is exactly the opposite of what patients should be doing right now. Since certain medical conditions are associated with a higher risk of serious illness including coronavirus, it is even more important to be proactive about your health.”

The new Telemedicine Walk-in service at London Drugs is a safe and convenient way for patients to get consultations for issues that don’t require an in person-visit. Even for those facing chronic illness, the service offers a convenient way for patients to receive prescription renewals, discuss changing medications or have a conversation about dosage or side effects with a pharmacist available to fill prescriptions and offer additional guidance.

In most cases, the Telemedicine Walk-in service at London Drugs will allow patients to be seen by a physician within 10-20 minutes.


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