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What is Virtual Care?

Updated: Apr 15, 2021

Virtual care, or telemedicine, is the use of communications technology to provide clinical patient care, or to assist in the provision of such care, at a distance. It includes communications technologies such as telephones (land lines and mobile devices), electronic mail, text messaging, video-conferencing, audio-conferencing, remote monitoring, internet-based tools and telerobotics. The June 2019 Devlin Report on Ending Hallway Medicine referred to several of the Ontario Telemedicine Network programs as innovative successes that could be built upon in the pending digitization and realignment of Ontario’s health care system.[1]

The Ontario Telemedicine Network website[2] provides or links to many different types of virtual care, which can be broken down into 3 basic types:

  1. eCare: applications or devices used to monitor patients, or to allow patients to self-monitor; such applications or devices may be sourced via innovative procurement together with the MOHLTC and the LHINs

  2. eVisit: real time video visits with patients, usually initiated by the health care provider

  3. eConsult: secure electronic consultations between health care providers about a specific patient

Virtual care services require registration by the physician to use OTN infrastructure.  Other infrastructure may be used if approved by OTN. The following chart identifies different types of virtual care solutions, most of which are provided by OTN or available through the OTN website.

[1] Premier’s Council on Improving Healthcare and Ending Hallway Medicine, A Healthy Ontario: Building a Sustainable Health Care System, June 2019, available at, pages 20-21.

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