News release (05-12-2020)
New online directory helps patients access their family doctors for virtual care
Tuesday, May 12, 2020 – Greater Victoria – A new online directory helps patients access their family doctors virtually by telephone or video.
The new Pathways BC Virtual Care Directory, www.pathwaysbcvirtualcare.ca, is a tool for patients across British Columbia to look up their local doctors and find out whether they're providing virtual care and to access information on how to connect with them. For patients without a family doctor, the directory includes listings of local walk-in clinics as well as Urgent and Primary Care Centres where they can connect with a community physician.
With the onset of COVID-19, more and more family doctors are providing medical service through ‘virtual care’ – either by telephone or video conferencing. The challenge is that many patients are not aware that their doctors are available to support their medical needs, and may be holding back from seeking the care they need.
“We want to ensure that people are getting support and treatment for their medical concerns,” says Dr. Kathy Dabrus from the Victoria Division of Family Practice. “Doctors in the Victoria and South Island Divisions of Family Practice continue to provide care for their patients virtually via telephone and video. This new virtual care directory will help our patients to more easily access their doctors from the safety of their home.”
Dr. Kathleen Ross, President of Doctors of BC, says: “It’s very important to continue seeing your family doctor for ongoing care especially if you have long-term or chronic conditions. Family doctors know their patients best and understand their patients’ medical histories and needs.” Virtual care is covered by the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) like any other doctor visit.
The Pathways BC Virtual Care Directory also features practical patient resource materials about COVID -19. A team of physicians reviews the Pathways COVID-19 content weekly to ensure it’s up to date. The materials range from tips for parenting during COVID-19 to cleaning your home to dealing with anxiety.
In addition, Pathways features the Community Service Directory, www.pathwaysbc.ca/community, where people can find listings of local programs on over 30 topics including addictions, caregiver support, First Nations services, LGBT2Q+ supports, maternity care, mental health supports, seniors services, and wellness support. A robust search and filter function helps users to quickly find the most appropriate services for their query.
Pathways is a non-profit organization supported by a partnership between Doctors of BC and the British Columbia Ministry of Health. Victoria and South Island family doctors take the lead for the local Pathways directory.
What is the Pathways BC Virtual Care Directory?
It’s a new public directory that lets the public know how to access care in their community. It includes individual doctor and clinic listings and information on how to access doctors for virtual care.
What is the Pathways Community Service Directory?
It’s an online listing of community services and downloadable resources on over 30 topics. The following communities currently have listings on the Pathways Community Service Directory:
- Chilliwack & Fraser Health Rural, Comox Valley, Cowichan Valley, Kelowna – West Kelowna – Lake Country – Peachland, Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows, New Westminster – Tri-Cities, Victoria – South Island.
What is Pathways?
Pathways is an online website created by and for family doctors to share information among medical professionals about specialists, referral information, community services, and more. The Community Services Directory and the Virtual Care Directory are additions for the public.
How is Pathways funded?
Pathways is funded through the Physician Master Agreement via the General Practice Services Committee with operational funding from individual Divisions of Family Practice. Pathways is a registered non-profit organization that grew out of the Fraser Northwest Division of Family Practice.
What should patients do if they are worried they have symptoms of COVID-19?
Patients who have a doctor should always call their doctor first. They can check the Pathways BC Virtual Care directory to review how their doctor’s office would like to arrange an assessment of their symptoms.
For patients who do not have a doctor, they should enter their community in the directory and find out how to access care for an assessment about COVID-19 symptoms.
Will doctors take calls from patients who are worried they have COVID-19?
Yes, they will. Patients can call their doctors about any medical issues that concern them. Patients concerned about COVID symptoms can use BC Government’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool; if the tool suggests calling your “primary care provider” or 811, patients should call their family doctor or walk-in clinic.
What about testing for COVID-19?
Testing is being done through the designated assessment centres in our community. Doctors will speak with their patients and determine whether they need to go to one of the centres for testing.
Do patients have to pay for virtual care?
No. Virtual appointments are covered by the BC Medical Services Plan.
What if I need to see my doctor in person?
First, call your doctor’s office for an assessment by phone or video. Your doctor will determine whether an in-person visit is needed, and the office staff will arrange to do that safely.
If your doctor determines that you need an in-person visit, that will be arranged and will take place in a way that maximizes the safety of both you and your doctor.
What if I don’t have a family doctor?
The Pathways BC Virtual Care Directory provides information on walk-in clinics and Urgent and Primary Care Centres in Greater Victoria where you can connect with a community physician.
Why isn’t my doctor listed in the Pathways Virtual Care Directory?
The Pathways team is working with the Divisions of Family Practice across British Columbia to gather information on family doctors in communities across the province. Information is programmed into the Directory as soon as it is available. Different Divisions are at different stages of readiness with their data.