Unity Health partners with Toronto hospitals to offer expanded virtual ED services
Through partnership with Sunnybrook and University Health Network, virtual emergency department(ED) services will be available to Torontonians on a daily basis.
Unity Health is teaming up with Sunnybrook and University Health Network (UHN) to launch a unified virtual ED service available to all Torontonians.
Toronto’s Virtual Emergency Department gives people the ability to schedule a same-day appointment with any of the partner hospitals through the ED’s online platform and choose an appointment time that is most convenient for them. The visits can be done via the patient’s phone, smartphone, tablet or computer.
The service is intended for Torontonians who have an urgent medical issue that is not life threatening (e.g. body aches, rashes, nausea, etc.) and who are unable to make an appointment with a family doctor or nurse practitioner. It is meant to offer a more convenient care experience throughout the pandemic and on an ongoing basis.
“One of the real benefits of the virtual ED is that people have a set of expectations that they can follow. They book an appointment and they know that appointments will happen at the pre-determined time,” says Dr. Alun Ackery, physician co-lead for the virtual ED. “It gives people who would need to use the emergency department for an urgent but not life threatening issue an opportunity to avoid a long wait and have some certainty in their schedule.”
The project comes after the completion of a pilot program launched by Unity Health in January 2021, aimed at making it easier for patients to access care conveniently from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patients who participated in the pilot gave the service their stamp of approval, commenting that:
- “They really went above and beyond to help me get the care I needed. I would use the service again in a heartbeat if something else were to come up.”
- “It gave me such peace of mind to be able to speak with a doctor from home – especially when I would need to arrange for childcare if I had gone into the ED in-person.”
By joining forces with Sunnybrook and UHN, the three major Toronto health networks will be able to staff the Toronto’s Virtual Emergency Department daily – from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Booking opens at 7 a.m.
“Collaborating with Sunnybrook and UHN has been really rewarding,” says Dr. Ackery. “We are working together as one entity now to try and best serve the Toronto population.”
This initiative has been made possible as a result of funding from Ontario Health. For more information, visit TorontoVirtualED.ca.