Since the onset of the pandemic, more healthcare providers are offering patients forms of virtual care. To ensure we provide physicians with relevant, up-to-date resources and clear expectations to guide this evolving aspect of medical practice, CPSA spent much of 2021 working on updates to our standards of practice relating to virtual care.
Consultation on proposed changes to the current Telemedicine standard, along with the Episodic Care and Continuity of Care standards took place from Sept. 20 to Oct. 20. We also sought additional feedback from consultation participants in November—these standards are important and we wanted to ensure we got them right.
CPSA Council approved the revised standards at their December meeting, and the newly-named Virtual Care standard of practice will go into effect Jan. 1, 2022.
What are some key updates to the virtual care standard?
- A preamble was added to clarify the intention and importance of the standard, with a definition of “virtual care” in the glossary.
- The standard was reorganized and updated based on the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada’s draft Virtual Care Framework, to improve clarity and flow.
- Cross-border virtual care requirements are defined, such as the need to have appropriate liability protection and licensing to practise in other jurisdictions.
- A clause was added requiring physicians providing virtual care to provide in-person care if needed, or have an agreement with a physical clinic with 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 are included.
- Clarity on appropriateness of prescribing opioids or other controlled substances in virtual care settings is included.
- The former allowance for out-of-province physicians to provide up to five virtual encounters per year without registering with CPSA was removed, as there is no way to track or enforce this, and no other medical regulator in Canada has a similar exemption.
Please review the updated virtual care standard to ensure a full understanding of its expectations before implementation. Advice documents for the profession and Albertans are currently being revised and will be available in January.
And stay tuned: the revised Episodic Care and Continuity of Care standards will be implemented on March 1, 2022. Watch The Messenger and your inbox for more information.
Questions? We’re here to help. Please contact Chantelle Dick, Standards of Practice Advisor, at Chantelle.Dick@cpsa.ab.ca (due to the holidays, all emails will be responded to after Jan. 4, 2022).