Medico-legal realities emerging from the pandemic
—Opportunities and challenges of virtual care
OTTAWA, August 15, 2022—The Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) held its first hybrid information session today on the Medico-legal realities emerging from the pandemic—Opportunities and challenges of virtual care. The session was held as part of the CMPA’s 2022 Annual Meeting and Conference. Physician members in attendance, both in-person in Vancouver, B.C. and online, heard from a highly distinguished panel, who provided their views and shared their considerable experience on this timely and relevant topic.
Moderated by Dr. Kendall Ho, Professor and Lead—Digital Emergency Medicine Unit, UBC Faculty of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, the panel of experts discussed the barriers and enablers to integrating virtual care more prominently into our healthcare system.
Physician members in attendance learned to recognize the opportunities and medico-legal challenges that have emerged from the widespread adoption of virtual care, and reflected on factors that contribute to using virtual care safely.
Dr. Ho began the information session by outlining his personal perspective on the key challenges and opportunities to the safe provision of virtual care. In his opening remarks, Dr. Ho suggested that: “In the new normal of healthcare, physicians will need to take part in a timely and relevant professional dialogue to discern the best approaches to integrate virtual and in-person care, now and for the future.”
In concert with the information session, the CMPA published a white paper titled White paper—Integrating virtual care in practice: Medico-legal considerations for safe medical care. In it, the Association outlines five recommendations to improve safe medical care and reduce medico-legal risk for physician members practising virtual care.
In its examination of the future of virtual care, the CMPA recommends that existing processes for managing follow-up care, making investigation requests, and using documentation processes designed for in-person care, be modified to also accommodate virtual clinical encounters. The Association advises, however, that virtual care should only be offered when appropriate to the circumstances and when it will meet the patient’s needs.
In deciding whether to provide virtual care to their patients, physicians should be guided by what is in the patient’s best interest. While this may include convenience, more importantly it should be based on the safety of the medical care to be provided.
“As physicians continue to integrate virtual care into their practices in new ways and more than ever before, the CMPA is committed to playing an active role in continuing to promote the safe, and effective delivery of virtual care, said CMPA CEO, Dr. Lisa Calder.” As the CMPA modernizes its offerings, we remain committed to providing timely medico-legal advice and assistance to our members who face medico-legal problems, including as they learn to effectively leverage the benefits of virtual care and mitigate its risks.”
As the provision of virtual care continues to evolve as a safe modality in the future of healthcare delivery, the Association is committed to working with members and stakeholders collaboratively to do its part in supporting a system that fosters sustainable approaches to the delivery of effective and safe virtual care for Canadians.
In addition to a emphasizing the need for a collaborative approach, the CMPA strongly also recommends that education on the provision of safe virtual care be incorporated into medical school curriculums in undergraduate, graduate and continuing professional development programs.
As Canada’s largest provider of continuing professional education, the CMPA is well positioned to contribute to safe medical care learning and the delivery of safe virtual care. Using peer-reviewed research results, obtained from the analysis of its extensive collection of medico-legal data, the CMPA develops modern learning programs and resources that enhance the safety of medical care and reduce medico-legal risk in areas such as virtual care.
While it is not the CMPA’s role to set standards, the CMPA is ready to foster collaboration and encourage national specialty societies, Colleges and other healthcare organizations to develop clear specialty-specific clinical practice guidelines and professional standards that are consistent across the country to support the safe integration of virtual care with in-person care.
The Association will continue to raise important issues such as technological infrastructure and patient privacy and security issues to ensure they are addressed in the development of future standards of practice for virtual care.
For more information, or to request an interview: [email protected]
About the CMPA
The CMPA is a not-for-profit association that delivers efficient, high quality physician-to-physician advice and assistance in medico-legal matters, including the provision of appropriate compensation, on behalf of our members, to patients injured by negligent medical care (fault in Québec). Our evidence-based products and services enhance the safety of medical care, reducing unnecessary patient harm and healthcare costs.
As Canada’s largest physician organization and with the support of our over 105,000 physician members, the CMPA collaborates, advocates, and effects positive change on important healthcare and medico-legal issues. The Association is governed by an elected Council of physicians.