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An emerging form of patient care needs evolved standards

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January Messenger 2022, Professionalism & Standards | Posted January 20, 2022
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Our revised Virtual Care standard of practice is now in effect

What was once an occasional form of medical practice has become more popular since the onset of COVID-19—and in some cases, necessary for health and safety. As the pandemic continues, virtual forms of care provide another way for healthcare providers to ensure their patients get the help they need during a time when in-person visits may not be the best option.

This shift also means health regulators need to provide updated guidelines and resources around virtual care. After consultation with the profession, Albertans and healthcare partners in 2021, CPSA’s Virtual Care standard of practice went into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

Replacing our previous Telemedicine standard, the Virtual Care standard provides clarity about expectations when caring for patients virtually. Some key updates include:

  • Cross-border virtual care requirements, such as the need to have appropriate liability protection and licensing to practise in other jurisdictions when required.
  • A clause requiring physicians who provide virtual care to also make in-person care available if needed, or have an agreement with a clinic within reasonable proximity to the patient, to provide in-person care on behalf of the physician.
  • Clear expectations for keeping other care providers informed on such items as investigation requests.
  • Clarity on appropriateness of prescribing opioids or other controlled substances in virtual care settings.

We have also updated our advice documents on virtual care, to better align with the new standard. Please take a few moments to review them, along with the full standard of practice:

Thank you to all who provided feedback during this important process. If you have any questions about providing virtual care, please contact CPSA’s Standards of Practice Advisor at

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