British Columbia

B.C. doctors now available on the phone and online, in bid to reduce coronavirus spread

Doctors can now serve patients over the phone or by video link during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Doctors of B.C.

Remote services aim to keep clinics uncrowded

A stock image of doctors in lab coats working at a desk, with stethoscopes visible.
Doctors of B.C. says doctors can now offer services on the phone and over the computer in many cases, reducing the need for in-person visits. (Shutterstock)

Doctors are now able to serve patients over the phone or by video link during the COVID-19 pandemic, Doctors of B.C. says.

The alternatives to in-person visits are being offered to protect patients and doctors and stop the spread of the coronavirus that causes the illness, according to the association.

People are urged to call their doctor first so their needs can be assessed to determine if their case can be dealt with remotely.

In-person visits are still being booked for cases where it's necessary, and specialist appointments are still available.

"What we are trying to do is limit the number of people that need to leave their home for anything that's non-essential," said Doctors of B.C. president Dr. Kathleen Ross.

"This keeps the number of patients that are in a doctor's office — that are often crowded waiting areas — safe and socially distant."

Ross said the move also makes sense when there's a limited supply of protective equipment.

Patients are urged to call their doctor first when they need any form of medical care. Ross said she's noticed some hesitation to reach out about non-COVID medical issues.

"Although the virus is top of mind right now, people still need ongoing care and advice for acute or chronic conditions requiring treatment or medication," she said.

"Family doctors know their patients best — they know their medical histories, their families and understand their needs," said Ross.

Doctors of B.C. is an association with 14,000 doctors, residents and medical students among its members.

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