When a new mom in need of mental healthcare for postpartum depression can access timely support through group video visits, an online education platform, trusted apps and regular virtual appointments with members of their care team during a global pandemic–that is healthcare revolutionized.

Through Women’s Virtual—Canada’s first comprehensive strategy to deliver integrated virtual care for patients and providers–Women’s College Hospital is working to transform the healthcare experience by leading healthcare out of the 1950s and into the 21st century.

Having established the groundwork well before the pandemic, Women’s College Hospital was able to quickly accelerate a three-year strategy and launch the systems and infrastructure needed to transition over 75% of its services over to virtual care in March 2020—providing care to patients where, when and how they need it most.

“We are now far beyond simply providing virtual visits,” said Dr. Danielle Martin, executive vice president and chief medical executive. “At Women’s College Hospital, virtual care is not a stop gap measure or a one off. We are providing healthcare services where virtual care is woven throughout each patient’s experience—from their initial appointment to their recovery at home. By leveraging a variety of digital health tools, we are better able to meet their unique health needs.”

Implemented across the hospital, virtual care is an integral part of the Department of Psychiatry, where therapists, psychiatrists and social workers seamlessly transitioned to virtual care.

For Women’s College Hospital patient Patricia, virtual care has significantly reduced her stress levels by eliminating the need to drive into the city every time she has an appointment and has improved the quality of care she’s receiving, too.

“Virtual care is easy, it’s flexible, it’s simple to use and it’s private,” says Patricia. “You’re able to get the therapy you need, get your prescription filled, and get back to your day. It’s been amazing.”

Virtual care is also helping to advance equity and eliminate barriers to reach communities that have traditionally been marginalized and excluded in healthcare. The Centre for Wise Practices in Indigenous Health recently launched the Four Directions Wellbeing Virtual Support Hub, an action-based framework for holistic health that considers the deep interconnection between body, spirit, heart, and mind. The Hub provides culturally sensitive health information related to COVID-19 from trusted Indigenous sources.

The impact of Women’s Virtual extends well beyond the walls of Women’s College Hospital. The technology, programs and models of care can be scaled up across the province and beyond, continuing to provide better access to care long after the pandemic is over. We are challenging ourselves to learn from our COVID-19 experiences to provide healthcare that continually enhances equity, access and outcomes. Women’s Virtual is helping us lead the way and build back better.

To learn more or donate, visit us at wchf.ca

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From groundbreaking research and care to health system innovation, Women’s College Hospital is at the forefront of revolutionizing care for everyone.

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