Health Policy

Telemedicine in Primary Care

January 6, 2015

Doctors of BC has developed a policy statement on telemedicine in primary care in order to provide direction to policy makers on the physician perspective on the use of these services. Doctors of BC has chosen to address telemedicine in the primary care setting only at this stage given that the first phase of the Ministry of Health’s 2014 review of telemedicine services in BC is focused on the recent rapid increase in utilization of general practice videoconferencing services.

Our policy statement sets out that Doctors of BC recognizes the benefits of telemedicine as a complementary tool for primary care physicians where its use supports the following principles of enhanced primary care:

  • Quality patient-centred care based on a strong physician-patient relationship.
  • Continuity of care over time.
  • Comprehensive care for most health needs.
  • Coordination of care when it must be sought elsewhere.

To ensure the optimal use of telemedicine services in British Columbia’s primary health care system, Doctors of BC recommends:

  • Provincial primary care telemedicine investments, policy or regulation support comprehensive, continuous patient-centred care in alignment with the principles above.
  • Robust evaluation of telemedicine services to continually monitor quality and improve services for patients and providers, and curtail use where/if it detracts from the physician-patient relationship and the principles of enhanced primary care.
  • Primary care physicians who use telemedicine services:
    • consult the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC’s Professional Standards and Guidelines on Telemedicine, and
    • be supported to pursue continuing education on best practices for telemedicine to increase understanding of the opportunities and limitations of telemedicine in the clinical context.

For more information, including background, analysis and references, please see the full policy statement.