Doc Talk #117 – Telehealth



We talked telehealth in this show. This is the use of technology to provide healthcare remotely. In Alberta there are more than 900 telehealth sites.

The progress of technology (now that everyone has a smartphone) means that formal telehealth with specialized equipment and facilities has been disrupted by a number of telehealth and telemedicine companies in Canada. It is now possible to get consultations with physicians, prescriptions (and even sick notes!) from the comfort of your own home using your smartphone.

Dr Dan discussed his own experience of providing telephone consultations and advice in the UK in a GP after hours service, including the robust system which included a number of safeguards (such as recording phone calls and ensuring records of contact with the service were sent to the family physician).

In Alberta it gets particularly messy, because of the conflicts between fee for service billing and some grey areas around what is covered by the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan and what is not.

80% of diagnosis is from the history… but to say the physical exam is not needed is an unsophisticated interpretation. For me the physical exam is often not about making a diagnosis, but about confirming a diagnosis or making sure there is nothing else going on

Jamieson talked about his own experience of telehealth with family members and its potential to provide care to rural and remote communities, and enable patients to receive care closer to home.

Virtual medicine is here to stay and although it has a number of challenges, it is an exciting development that has the potential to transform the way we deliver care.

Within Alberta, there is an excellent telehealth service available 24/7 which provides trusted and reliable access to information about local healthcare facilities, medical advice, and other specialist services such as dementia advice: it is of course HealthLink:

☎ 811 (Health Link)



(Image by Grafiker61 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, from Wikimedia Commons)