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Local doctor speaking to patients virtually

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

An Oshawa doctor has found a way to speak to his patients face-to-face while still practicing social distancing.

Dr. Scott Styles, a paediatrician who specializes in the mental health of children, is working with TELUS Health to use videoconferencing to speak with his patients.

Overall, TELUS Health has enabled 26,000 family doctors across Canada to speak with their patients while also practicing social distancing.

“I’ve been a long term user of Practice Solutions, which is TELUS Health’s [electronic medical records] system across the country, and they recently just brought out what is called the ‘Virtual Visits,’” explains Styles.

Styles likes Virtual Visits because it integrates right into his scheduling program, while also connecting with the available software so there is nothing else he needs to do.

It also automatically emails patients, while providing a link for patients to click, and then they can check up on one another.

He explains it’s like the FaceTime app found on Apple products, such as iPads and iPhones, but it’s deeply integrated into the software he uses for his medical records.

“It’s nice because everybody is fearful of the COVID-19 virus, and nobody wants to come into the office, so they’re quite relieved when we offer them a chance to connect virtually,” explains Styles.

He notes it doesn’t completely replace an in person visit, but it helps to check in and see how his patients are doing.

“There are some limits to doing virtual care. I obviously can’t examine stomachs, or listen to hearts through this system, but if there’s a rash or an ear problem, or a throat problem, I can often see through the camera and get a sense of what’s happening,” he says.

He adds he does a lot of mental health care, specifically ADHD, learning disabilities, anxiety and depression.

“I can do a lot of great follow ups where I don’t necessarily need to examine patients to see how they’re doing, and we can optimize their care that way,” says Styles.

Styles says he’s gotten a really great response from patients who have used Virtual Visits. He believes patients are a little hesitant to come into his office right now.

“It works so well, it connects really quickly, there’s no downloads, no fumbling, I love it because it works on a computer, it works on a tablet, it works on a cell phone, and so it’s really simple for the patients, and they love seeing me as much as I love seeing them,” he says.

He notes for those who are unable to use Virtual Visits, the government is allowing doctors to do check-ins over the phone.