FREDERICTON — New Brunswickers overwhelmingly endorse the use of virtual care to support their health-care needs.
In a new poll conducted on behalf of the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS), 77 per cent of respondents said they support physicians continuing to use virtual care after the COVID-19 pandemic is declared over. Nine of 10 New Brunswickers who have experienced a recent virtual care visit were satisfied with the experience.
“Virtual care is a tremendous tool for improving access to primary health care,” said Dr. Chris Goodyear, president of the NBMS and a general surgeon in Fredericton. “While not a substitute for an in-person visit, virtual care adds flexibility for physicians and patients when an in-person visit is not required. It also cuts down on the economic and environmental costs of travel and is helpful for patients who are unable to travel.”
Following the temporary shutdown of many health-care services in New Brunswick and to respect physical distancing measures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBMS and provincial government worked together to expand virtual care access in the province beginning in March 2020. It was meant as a temporary measure to support the health of New Brunswickers during the pandemic, but it’s clear that patients see value in maintaining virtual care in the province.
The poll conducted by Narrative Research of Halifax showed that four in 10 New Brunswickers had a virtual care appointment during the pandemic with the majority satisfied with the experience. And while there is overwhelming support to maintain virtual care access, a large majority of respondents stated they would not pay for virtual care if it was not covered by Medicare.
“During the pandemic, many New Brunswickers turned to virtual care practices to meet their health-care needs, and those who did are overwhelmingly satisfied with their experience,” said Margaret Brigley, chief executive officer and partner of Narrative Research. “More so, findings show the vast majority of residents endorse the use of virtual care practices as an ongoing option for health-care delivery – although they do not expect to pay additional costs for such services. This suggests that the province needs to consider new options for health-care delivery in the future.”
The NBMS looks forward to working with government to grow and enhance virtual care access in New Brunswick beyond the pandemic.
Narrative Research conducted a random telephone survey with 400 adults in New Brunswick aged 18+ years between May 7-20, 2020. Results are accurate to within +4.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Founded in 1867, the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) is the professional association representing all physicians in New Brunswick. The NBMS has a two-part mission: to represent and service all practising and future physicians in the province, and to advocate for the health of New Brunswickers.
Eric Lewis, Communications Manager
New Brunswick Medical Society