Virtual Care

As Unity Health Toronto works toward providing the best care experience to our patients, our goal is to offer clinic appointment options that help our patients get the care they need when they need it.

Virtual Care is any interaction between patients and members of their health care team using technology when they are in different locations. A video visit or telemedicine appointment is an example of a virtual care option.

At Unity Health, virtual visits were introduced to help protect our patients, staff and community from the spread of the virus. Virtual visit options include telephone and video visits. After the pandemic passes, virtual visits will continue to be offered to patients.

Virtual visit is a flexible option that allows you to connect with your health-care provider from any private and secure space; have your family members join the visit; and save time and costs by avoiding travel. At Unity Health Toronto, we are committed to protecting your privacy and confidentiality during your virtual visit. For more information, see the FAQs.

Virtual Care is not a replacement for usual care. You and your care provider will decide if virtual care is the best option for you. If you and your care provider are thinking about a virtual visit, here is some helpful information for you.

How is a virtual appointment arranged?

Your care provider or a clinic staff will contact you to arrange for a virtual visit.  They will let you know about options for virtual visit. A virtual visit could be using telephone or video. You and your care provider will decide together which virtual visit option is best for you. If you need an interpreter, the clinic staff can help. Please ask for one when confirming your appointment.

Telephone Appointment

If your virtual visit is using telephone, the clinic staff will confirm your current contact information. They will let you know:

  • The date and time for your telephone visit
  • To expect the call in a window of time (for example, between 9 and 11 a.m.)
  • That you may see the call come from an unknown number – make sure you answer the call

Video Appointment

A video visit may be an option if you have the technical skills and access to an up-to-date computer, smartphone or tablet for it. The checklists below will help you check.

If you do not have the technology for a video visit, or feel uncomfortable using it, let your care provider or clinic staff know. They will help set up another visit option for you.

If a video visit is an option for you, the clinic team will,

  • Ask for your consent for email communication and video visit
  • Email you the video visit link
  • Give you information on how to prepare

Tip: Arrange a test call with a family member or friend to become familiar with technology.

How do I prepare for my video appointment?

Health care providers from Unity Health use Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) and Zoom Healthcare for  video visits with their patients. When the appointment is booked, you will be given clear instructions about what video visit option will be used. Check your email regularly for information about your video appointment.

Click on the links below to find some guides to help you get your device ready for the video visit:

OTN Guides

Zoom Guides

Arrange a test call with a family member or friend to become familiar with technology.

On the day of your appointment, use the checklist below to make sure you have gathered all the items required for a smooth video visit with your health care provider.

For a safe, secure video visit, it is a good idea to:

  • close other applications and windows or tabs (e.g. email, Facebook, etc.) you may have open on the device you are using for the appointment.
  • turn off any smart speaker devices in your home, such as Alexa ECHO, Google Nest, etc.

What to expect at my video appointment?

A video visit is just like an in-person visit except the care provider you will be seeing and speaking with will be on the screen of your device.

At the beginning of your video visit:

  • You will be placed in a ‘virtual’ waiting room. You will not see anyone else while you are waiting for your care provider to ‘admit’ you in the appointment.
  • You may be in the virtual waiting room for a while if your care provider is running late.
  • All in attendance will be introduced including those not seen on camera.
  • Your care provider will obtain a verbal consent from you to proceed with the video visit.

During your video visit,

  • Your care provider may ask about your concerns, your medical history, the medication you take.
  • Your care provider may ask you to move your camera if they need to see something.
  • You will be able to ask questions to your care provider.

 

What to expect after my virtual appointment?

Like an in-person visit, your health care provider will make arrangements to send you requisitions if any tests are needed. Prescriptions for any medications will be sent in to your pharmacy directly. You will also be contacted by the care provider’s office about your in-person or virtual follow up visit as needed.

Tip: Your care provider may call from an unknown or blocked number, please answer the call.

Frequently Asked Questions About Virtual Care

How do I know if a virtual visit is right for me?

You and your health care team will decide together if a virtual visit is right for you. You and your health care provider will also talk about which virtual care appointment option may be best for you.

What if I don’t have the technology or don’t feel comfortable using it for video visit?

If you do not have or feel uncomfortable with technology used for video visit, let your care provider or clinic staff know. They will help make other arrangements to provide care.

Are there any costs for my video visit appointment with my Unity Health provider??

Unity Health providers will not charge you for your video visit appointment.

It is possible, however, that your telecom service provider (e.g. Bell, Rogers, Telus) may charge you if you go over your data usage limit.

Before your video visit, we recommend that you check with your telecom service provider to make sure your plan is sufficient.

How is Unity Health Toronto ensuring that video visit is safe and private?

Electronic communication, including virtual visits and email, are not free of risks. At Unity Health Toronto, we are committed to protecting the privacy and confidentiality of your information. We have taken steps to keep your personal information safe:

  • We use secure platforms (OTN and Zoom Healthcare) for video visits.
  • We will ask for your verbal consent for your virtual appointment.
  • We will give you information to help you prepare for a safe and private virtual visit.
  • We make sure that only the people involved in your care will join your virtual appointment.

How can I protect my privacy for a video visit?

The video connection is made using private and secure Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) or Zoom Healthcare and will be private and confidential. You can help keep your information safe by:

  • Use your personal computer or device for the video visit.
  • Join the video visit from a private location . Avoid joining video visits using public wifi (such as a café or library).
  • Use your personal e-mail, not a work e-mail address.
  • Close other applications and windows or tabs (e.g. email, Facebook, etc.) you may have open on the device you are using for the appointment.
  • Turn off any smart speaker devices in your home (e.g. Alexa ECHO, Google Nest, etc.)
  • Do not click on any other links, if you are not sure that the email is sent by your care provider. Call them to confirm.
  • Do not share the video visit link with anyone who is not part of your visit.

How can I make sure I am in a private, quiet space?

  • Close the door to the room you are using for your virtual visit to reduce disruption.
  • If your room has windows, cover them by drawing the curtains or blinds.
  • If the room has TV or radio, turn it down or off.
  • When setting up your webcam, pick a spot where windows or doors will not be in the video.

Can I choose not to have a virtual appointment at this time?

You can decline or withdraw your consent for virtual appointment at any time by contacting your care provider. Your care provider will make other arrangements to provide the care you need. If you would like to have a virtual appointment in the future, you can speak with your care provider about this option.

What if my technology does not work during the video visit?

To have a smooth video visit with your care provider, it is important to check if the technology works before the day of the appointment. If there are any technical issues during the video visit, don’t worry. Your care provider will call you on the phone number you provided as soon as they can. If another video appointment is needed, the clinic will re-schedule.

Can my family join the virtual visit if they are not in the same location as me?

Your health care provider can make arrangements for your family to join the virtual visit once you provide your consent.

What should I do if I need an interpreter for the virtual visit?

Your health care provider can help make arrangements for an interpreter. Please contact your health care provider before your appointment if you need an interpreter.

If you would like to book an appointment for St. Michael’s Virtual Emergency Department, click here.

Last updated September 23, 2021