Health Canada to invest $16M in virtual care in Alberta

Alberta is receiving $16 million in federal funding to expand virtual care services across the province.

"(The) investment will support Alberta in its work to meet the health needs of Albertans during this pandemic, through expanded virtual health services," announced Canada's Minister of Health Patty Hajdu on April 14. 

The funding will be used to establish a virtual health strategy and expand Alberta's MyHealth Records patient portal information and capabilities. The funds will also help the province develop secure messaging and collaboration services to enhance communication, as well as a privacy and security framework for virtual care.

Health City CEO Reg Joseph told Taproot that investment in those areas is fundamental to the province's health system because it will allow the province to offer virtual services to more Albertans.

Joseph also said the province should invest more money in providing virtual care to remote communities.

"The focus should be on communities that have challenges to access first. If we address that need by providing better accessibility to those remote communities then I think (the government) will be doing a good service to Alberta."

The federal government is investing $16M into virtual care in Alberta. (Courtesy of the University of Alberta) The federal government is investing $16M into virtual care in Alberta. (Courtesy of the University of Alberta)

According to Joseph, Alberta needs to better integrate home health monitoring platforms to improve virtual care in those areas. 

Health City has recently partnered with Alberta Health Services and other health organizations to launch a home health monitoring technology trial to increase care access in rural communities.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual care technology has allowed patients in Alberta to access health care remotely, and interact with physicians in a safer way. 

"During the pandemic, we've seen our province move forward quite quickly, so it's been a very positive thing. The next step is to see how can we carry on the value that virtual care can bring to the table," he explained. 

"We often don't think of customer service in a public health system. Virtual care is one great example of good customer service. Not only is it easier and more efficient, but it is safer even post-pandemic."