While Ontario’s Stage 3 reopening means people can go to bars and eat in restaurants, family physicians are unlikely to transition from virtual to in-person visits any time soon, despite concerns over potential long-term consequences.
The OMA found in June, two-thirds of doctors were delivering most patient care via telephone or virtually.
Hill said the exponential rise in costs for both personal protective equipment (PPE) and investments needed to make doctors’ offices COVID-safe, is largely behind a slow transition back to in-person visits.
According to media reports, a medical clinic would need between $4,000 and $5,000 to bring it in line with the infrastructure guidelines around physical distancing.
The full gowns needed for higher risk procedures that used to cost $1 each, are now $7, he said. A medical grade face shield can cost up to $400.
There are calls for the health ministry to consider boosting investment in family doctors or suffer the long-term consequences of online-only visits.
There are no easy solutions as no one wants a patient to go to a doctor’s office for one illness only to contract COVID-19.