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Almost half of Canadians have now accessed a physician using virtual-care options and are highly satisfied with the results, according to a new survey by the Canadian Medical Association.

The poll, conducted by Abacus Data between May 14 and 17, found those who’ve connected with their doctor virtually during the coronavirus pandemic reported a 91 per cent satisfaction rate — 17 points higher than in-person emergency room visits.

Moving forward, almost half (46 per cent) of Canadians who had the opportunity to use virtual care since the pandemic outbreak said they’d prefer a virtual method as a first point of contact with their doctor.

Read: How OPG is leveraging virtual care to improve health access

“Physical distancing measures designed to keep Canadians safe during our fight against COVID-19 have led to the adoption of virtual care out of necessity,” said Dr. Sandy Buchman, president of the CMA, in a press release. “We need to build on this momentum. Canadians should be able to access health care in a timely and convenient fashion.”

The survey also found half of Canadians believe virtual care could impact the cost of our health-care system, as well as improving access to specialists (45 per cent) and the timeliness of test results (41 per cent).

Earlier this year, a CMA-led task force issued a report outlining recommendations on how the federal government and stakeholders can improve and expand virtual care throughout Canada.

“What’s needed now is for the federal government to facilitate a pan-Canadian framework for virtual care, with provinces and territories playing a key role in how virtual care is improved and expanded,” said Dr. Gigi Osler, co-chair of the task force and former president of the CMA, in the release. “All Canadians — from urban to rural, remote and Indigenous communities — can benefit from more choice and convenience when it comes to how health care is accessed and delivered.”

Read: Walmart Canada rolls out free virtual health care to all staff

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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