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Section - Guide for Reducing Barriers to Virtual Healthcare (Section Home)

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rootGuide for Reducing Barriers to Virtual Healthcare



These guidelines deal with factors that are under the recipient of care's influence or control. These guidelines document suggestions, ideas, and approaches those recipients of care can undertake to reduce barriers to accessing virtual healthcare.

1.1 Place of care

Where an individual is situated can affect how they engage in virtual healthcare in positive and negative ways. Understanding these contexts and providing alternatives, controls, or adjustments can help improve a person's healthcare experience.

1.1.1 Functional needs

  • Environment has sufficient light, privacy, acoustics, etc. to receive desired care. There may or may not be an ability to control these factors.
  • There may be a preference for a particular place or setting. For example, a person may desire to receive care at home instead of travelling to a clinic.
  • Individuals may not have predictable or reliable housing to be able to attend virtual visits.

1.1.2 Clarifying questions

  • Does the environment match the patient's needs and preferences?
  • Can the recipient of care be situated in their preferred space and still receive the desired care?
  • If the recipient of care cannot be situated in their preferred space or a space where care can be received, then what are some mutually acceptable alternatives?

1.1.3 Practices

  • Recipient of care informed of flexibility of setting that can be accommodated, like their home, or a friend / supporter's residence. Community centres, shelters, mobile clinics, and alternate offices can also be used to serve individuals seeking services in closer proximity.
  • Individual has an opportunity to express information about location preferences and sensitivities.
  • Provide information and access to alternate private and secure locations for conducting virtual health visits.

1.1.4 Software approaches

  • Have a way for individuals to discover alternate locations for having virtual healthcare visits. This could be a searchable index of possible locations that match different criteria.

1.2 Supports for using technology

Some virtual consultations require the individual to be able to use, move, or manipulate technology physically. These tasks may require strength, motor control, or knowledge to accomplish.

1.2.1 Functional needs

  • Support person or service animal needed to accomplish tasks.
  • Adaptable and flexible technology requirements to meet the individual's unique situation and setting.
  • Additional physical supports and strategies to facilitate handling of technical hardware used.

1.2.2 Clarifying questions

  • Will the client/patient require changing positioning of equipment, such as a camera, computer display, or laptop? Will they need assistance?
  • Is there an ideal configuration, arrangement, or specification of equipment? Is the individual aware of this? Can other configurations be acceptable?
  • Does the recipient of care have assistance? Do they require support to arrange for assistance?

1.2.3 Practices

  • Communicate technology requirements in advance so arrangements can be done before the session.
  • Share suggestions and best practices to improve effectiveness of technology during a virtual visit. For example, for an observation it may be beneficial to use multiple cameras - one to follow the subject, and the other in a fixed location for different angles.
  • Plan for options for an assistant to facilitate session with the recipient of care. The assistant may be someone from their personal circle of care like a family member or caregiver or appointed by the practitioner such as a technician.
  • Consider benefit of conducting sessions where the recipient of care is in the relevant context, such as their home, where they have access to the equipment they would be using for their care.
  • In situations where cameras are used, ask individuals to use props, tripods, or mounts which help positioning, reduce physical strain, and reduce disorienting camera shifts.

1.2.4 Software approaches

  • Allow for multiple people, such as support persons, to connect to the same session.
  • Provide a way for attendees to access resources, documentation, and help material while in session.
  • Allow for multiple devices to connect to the same session for multiple cameras.
  • Assist camera positioning and framing by using a guide or positioning grid.
  • Display size (resolution) and orientation (aspect ratio) should behave seamlessly regardless of what the user chooses. This will allow users to interact with any user interface in both portrait and landscape orientations in case the device position or settings change.

1.3 Booking and attending a virtual meeting

Have a way to attend a virtual meeting without having to recall or access login information or passwords, which are hard to remember, and often lost. Provide different ways to book appointments, and different meeting methods.

1.3.1 Functional needs

  • Booking virtual meetings can be done using a variety of methods that many different people can use – not just though a single booking method.
  • Support for different ways of having a meeting that support different preferences and accessibility needs.
  • Meetings require tracking of meeting information such as date, time, website, username, and password. Individuals may not have a reliable way of tracking or remembering meeting information or meeting credentials.
  • Recipients of care may have accessibility needs or preferences to attend the meeting. This may include transportation, service animals, and accessibility technology.

1.3.2 Clarifying questions

  • Is there more than one way to book an appointment? Do these booking methods cover different access options?
  • When booking appointments, is there a way for individuals to specify any needs or preferences?
  • Is there a way for individuals to see availability of possible appointments?

1.3.3 Practices

  • Provide multiple ways to book appointments, such as by phone, email, and online booking or web form.
  • Provide information that is important to the appointment that can be accessed in multiple modalities and languages.
  • When booking appointments, have options for specifying needs, preferences, and other contextual information as a way of providing useful information to the practitioner ahead of time. This might include options for meeting method, meeting location, language needs, transportation, accessibility preferences.
  • When confirming appointments, use the opportunity for the practitioner to communicate any requirements for the meeting so the recipient of care has sufficient time to prepare.
  • Disclose in advance if the individual is required to remember and recall meeting information such as date, time, web addresses, and login information.
  • Provide ways of simplifying remembering and recalling meeting information such as sending reminders using their preferred contact method.
  • Provide a way for appointments to be conducted without needing to recall meeting credentials or web addresses. Use unique, single-use URLs coupled with identity verification for security.

1.3.4 Software approaches

  • Provide automated booking through different methods such as a web form, text, or phone.
  • Appointment reminders through integration with calendar, email, and other services like to-do apps.
  • Appointments should offer a way of being scheduled and attended without creation of accounts, recalling passwords, etc. Use single-use URLs with verification can be one such approach.

1.3.5 Other related guidelines