Nova Scotia is prioritizing virtual health care for residents without a family doctor while other provinces are moving away from it. Virtual Care Nova Scotia, offered through a Canadian tech startup called Maple, allows patients to access doctors and nurse practitioners through an app or website. Unattached patients can also be referred to in-person clinics if a video or phone call is not sufficient. Virtual care has been a lifeline for many patients, allowing them to get prescriptions refilled and receive necessary medical care. About 20% of patients who consult with a medical professional on Maple are referred to in-person clinics, where they can get physical examinations, access test results, and receive ongoing care for chronic illnesses. The virtual care program has faced some challenges, including long wait times for appointments, but it has proven to be an important bridge until patients can find a family doctor. The goal of Virtual Care Nova Scotia is not to replace the family practice system but to strengthen it until there is enough capacity for everyone who needs a doctor. While virtual care is helpful, many people still value the personal rapport and one-on-one experience of having a dedicated family physician.
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