COVID-19 has challenged us like never before at BC Cancer. Our response to the urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic began seven weeks ago when BC Cancer quickly implemented numerous measures across the province to protect our patients and staff. One of these measures includes the expansion of Virtual Health as a way to deliver care to our patients and families.
To protect our patients and keep them safe, BC Cancer staff and physicians have adopted innovative approaches to providing safe and secure care to patients through phone appointments and Virtual Health tools such as Zoom for Healthcare and Skype for Business.
We have shown immense success in this area. In 2019, BC Cancer saw 8 per cent of patients virtually. On average across the province, we are now seeing 70 per cent of patients virtually and all within a matter of weeks. At BC Cancer - Victoria, we have seen a wide adoption of virtual health at 90 per cent.
Zoom for Healthcare users have also significantly increased since the start of COVID-19. Zoom for Healthcare is a different version from Zoom Basic, and is endorsed by the Ministry of Health and PHSA for clinical use in Virtual Health visits. Before March 15, BC Cancer had 26 Zoom for Healthcare users. As of April 28, the number of activated Zoom for Healthcare users increased to 574 and continues to grow.
By conducting appointments virtually, this protects both our patients and staff and reduces the potential spread of COVID-19. Patients are still continuing their care at our cancer centres across the province but are encouraged to connect with their oncologist virtually wherever possible.
"We spoke with our oncologist Dr. Miller from our kitchen table," shares BC Cancer patients Donna and Rob. "We were a little nervous at first, but being able to see our doctor from the comfort of home put us at ease and gave us a sense of confidence. It was our first meeting with her and we needed that confidence more than ever. When we go into the centre for treatment we aren't worried about our safety. We know we're in good hands."
As we plan what our "new normal" will look like at BC Cancer, we will continue to embrace new ways to connect and provide care to our patients and families. Virtual Health will remain as an essential way for us to continue connecting with our patients at home. The health and safety of our patients is our top priority and we will continue to take measures to ensure that our patients are safe.
Learn more about Virtual Health at Office of Virtual Health.