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Virtual Care FAQs: Answering your questions about online appointments

Woman talks to her doctor via her laptop

What is virtual care?

Virtual care is a virtual meeting between a patient and their health-care provider. Virtual care can be  done via a telephone call, or via a video conference if you have a smartphone, tablet or computer with internet access.  Through virtual care, patients can get advice and support for their health care needs.  You do not need to meet in person.  Many patients like the convenience of virtual care because they do not have to come to the hospital for their appointment.

What are the benefits of virtual care?

Virtual care appointments offer


convenience and comfort: meet virtually with your health-care provider from your home, work, or any place you choose

Time Savings

time savings: no need to travel to a hospital or health centre for your appointments.

Safety and privacy

privacy and security: connect securely through Zoom using your MyChart account.

Quality care

quality care: receive the same high-quality care that you expect from an in-person appointment.

How does The Ottawa Hospital provide virtual care?

The Ottawa Hospital provides virtual care appointments in any of the following ways:

Your health-care provider may assign one kind of virtual care to you. If it does not meet your needs, please talk to them about other options.

92% of respondents reported no problems with the audio, video, software set up, login, or scheduling process. 97% of respondents reported needing no technical help before or during the virtual visit.  98% of respondents reported no concerns with privacy or confidentiality.  99% of respondents understood the recommendations and plan made by their health-care team.  88% of respondents said they would choose a virtual visit over an in-person visit in the future.

This survey was launched in October 2020 and represents responses from 180 total patients in the Internal Medicine program at the Riverside and General campuses, and the Bariatric program at the Civic Campus.

How is a Direct-to-Patient video appointment booked with my health-care provider?

If your appointment is appropriate for virtual care, the clinic or doctor’s office will ask you if you would like to have the appointment via video or telephone.

If you choose a telephone call, the booking clerk or doctor’s office will tell you when your doctor will call you. If you choose a video appointment, the booking clerk will also explain how to access the link and launch the appointment.

Are video appointments safe and secure?

Yes, The Ottawa Hospital’s Direct-to-Patient video appointments on MyChart are provided through a special Zoom health-care license that was purchased by The Ottawa Hospital and integrated with our electronic health information system (Epic).

The Epic-Zoom platform incorporates strong encryption, security and privacy controls to ensure your appointments are private and protected. The data are also encrypted as an added layer of security protection.

The appointment platform is certified, and the technology meets the health-care industry standards for Canada’s Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA). All Personal Health Information (PHI) is stored and maintained in Ontario. Additionally, Zoom’s Health Information Technology (HIT) team continually reviews the standards to ensure secure, safe video appointments.

The Ottawa Hospital is one of a number of hospitals across Canada participating in a clinical trial testing whether enhanced virtual care can help patients recovering at home after emergency surgery. Half of the patients in the trial receive regular care, while the other half receive an in-home monitoring kit with devices to measure their weight, blood oxygen levels, blood pressure, breathing rate, temperature and pulse. The hope is that this enhanced virtual care can reduce complications and keep these patients out of hospital.

How can I protect my privacy during a virtual appointment?

Patients can keep their information private and secure by:

  • choosing a private place for their virtual appointment
  • using an email address and device (smartphone, tablet, or computer) you own. Do not use a public computer or one that your employer provides
  • using a secure internet network. Avoid public internet networks

Do I have to use virtual care?

No. If you do not want to use virtual care, talk to your health-care provider about other options. Your health-care provider may be able to see you in person or refer you to another provider who can. If you’re uncomfortable with virtual appointments, please let your doctor or other member of your care team know how you feel. Many patients who were not comfortable at first, soon realize they enjoy the convenience and ease of seeing their care team through virtual appointments.

Older man sits on his couch and talks on the telephone

Health-care providers at The Ottawa Hospital complete about 5,000 virtual video visits and 16,000 phone visits per month.

What if I need to see my health-care provider in person?

Many health concerns can be addressed in a virtual appointment. If your doctor or other member of your health care team determines you need to be seen in person, they will arrange for you to visit their office or another clinic.

How do I make the most of my next online appointment?

Read our simple tips for your next online appointment.


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This website gives you common facts, advice and tips. Some of it may not apply to you. Please talk to your doctor, nurse or other health-care team member to see if this information will work for you. They can also answer your questions and concerns.