NWT Health and Social Services now offering virtual COVID-19 care

This image is a computer generated representation of COVID-19 virions (SARS-CoV-2) under electron microscope. (Felipe Esquivel Reed/Wikimedia Commons).

The territorial government’s Department of Health and Social Services (HSS) is now offering virtual care to make sure that health care provides can continue to address the needs of patients safely and effectively while reducing the potential spread of infection.

According to an HSS advisory – the department will be encouraging the use of video and audio technologies for some patient visits rather than asking all patients to come into healthcare facilities.

It will also be beneficial to residents living in communities without full-time health care providers.

Relationship-based, comprehensive primary care is the foundation of NWT’s healthcare system, HSS states.

This means that ideally,  patients and providers know each other.

This “continuity” creates cultural safety and makes virtual care more effective.

Where possible and appropriate, HSS will endeavor to provide virtual care opportunities within this context, between patients and providers who know one another.

However virtual encounters can also occur between patients and providers who do not previously know one another, HSS states.

Privacy and Safety

We do our best to make sure that any information you give to us during virtual care visits is private and secure. There is an increased security risk that your health information may be intercepted or disclosed to third parties when using audio or video communications tools. Before you participate in an audio or video communication with a health care provider, you will be asked to provide your express consent to the collection and use of your personal information in this manner.

To help us keep your information safe and secure, you can:

  • Understand that video or calls you may receive are not secure in the same way as a private appointment in an exam room.
  • Use a private computer/device, secure accounts, and a secure internet connection.  For example, your access to the Internet on your home network will generally be more secure than an open guest Wi-Fi connection.

How do I access Virtual Care?

ou can request virtual care by contacting your health care service. You will be provided information and resources on how to set-up your computer or mobile device to facilitate the virtual care session.

Based on reliability, availability, encryption and ease of use, the following technologies are proposed:

However, if the clinical need justifies it and these technologies are not available, other options can be considered.

What if my internet connection is not reliable?

If the virtual care is interrupted by audio or video issues, we recommend switching to a direct phone call to resolve the virtual care session and organize for other arrangements or a follow-up virtual care visit at such a time when your internet connection is more sustainable.

About the Author

John McFadden
John has been in the broadcast journalism industry since the 1980s. He has been a reporter in Yellowknife since 2012 and joined CKLB in January of 2018. John covers the crime and court beat as well as reporting on other areas including politics, business, entertainment and sports. He won seven national community newspaper awards while he was a journalist with Northern News Services Limited (NNSL). John worked in Ontario before coming North including stints as a TV sportscaster in Peterborough and senior news writer for CBC and CTV in downtown Toronto.