Skip to content
Image of doctor using a phone for care
Example of doctor engaging in virtual care.
Research + Innovation

We put the care in virtual care

by Kris Wallace


In the old days – six months ago – even something as routine as a prescription renewal typically required a trip to the doctor’s office. Today, virtual health appointments have become part of the new normal. Across Providence Health Care (PHC), our teams have moved with astonishing speed and ingenuity to deliver the same skilled, compassionate care whether their patients are in Vancouver or Vanderhoof.

Imagine you’re a family doctor in a remote community and a patient comes in with a stubborn infection, or a concern about their recent kidney transplant, or really anything outside of your usual practice.

Thanks to the RACE line (a made-at-St-Paul’s innovation), physicians and nurse practitioners across BC have access to a team of more than 45 different specialists. With RACE (Rapid Access to Consultative Expertise), a single phone call – or electronic message if you have the RACE app – puts you in touch with an expert who can advise on the condition, how to treat it, and whether the patient needs a face-to-face consult with a specialist.

In its first 10 years, the RACE line has taken more than 50,000 calls and saved 60% of its patients from needing face-to-face appointments. Perhaps most reassuring for patients and caregivers alike: more than 80% of the calls are returned within 10 minutes.

We’re here for you, no matter where you are

In recent months, RACE has been joined by a host of other virtual health initiatives right across PHC. They’re going over like gangbusters: by mid-May, more than 3,800 patient visits had been conducted via Zoom alone. Here are a few more of the creative ways we are reaching out to our patients.

Our Kidney Care Clinic actively supports more than 1,200 kidney patients across BC and the Yukon. Patients can call from anywhere to get medication reviews and support from nutritionists, social workers, nurse-patient educators. Post-transplant renal patients also have access to nurses specialized in their needs.

Over at the Healthy Heart Program, the cardiac rehab team has taken to Zoom to offer weekly “stretch and movement” sessions for patients. There were more than 40 participants at the first session and its popularity continues to grow.

Understandably, some of our most vulnerable and anxious patients are moms-to-be and their birthing partners. St. Paul’s Maternity Centre created BC’s first and only virtual prenatal classes to help them feel confident and reassured that they can still have a safe and healthy birth experience.

The Adult Cystic Fibrosis Clinic has made their entire team of dieticians, physicians, nurses, respiratory techs, physiotherapists, pharmacists, and social workers available via videoconference.

Meanwhile, registered dieticians with the Provincial Eating Disorders Program have harnessed Instagram and podcasting to reach their clients. They host a daily “Snack Time and Chill” session on Instagram Live and a companion podcast, “Let Us Eat Cake,” to share meal support, coping strategies, and the healing power of laughter and connection.

Virtual care at the new St. Paul’s Hospital

Our goal has always been to deliver the right care, at the right time, in the right place.

So even before the pandemic, we knew that virtual health initiatives would be the key to transforming access to health care for all British Columbians

Now, as we move toward the new St. Paul’s Hospital, we are even more committed to achieving our lofty virtual care goals. You can help. When you give to St. Paul’s Foundation, your gift helps people feel better, stay connected, and enjoy the peace of mind that their care is in good hands, even if those hands are 1,000 kilometres away.

Donors like you make it possible for our programs to keep providing world-class care as we navigate the new normal. Please give to the COVID-19 Response Fund today. Thank you!