Use of virtual care by infectious disease specialists in Canada: A national survey

Philip W. Lam, Ilan S. Schwartz, Richard J. Medford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The aim of this study was to characterize the type and extent of virtual care use among infectious disease specialists in Canada, with a focus on the clinical factors that influence the decision to provide virtual versus in-person care. Methods: Infectious disease physicians practicing in Canada were invited to complete a survey regarding their experiences with virtual care. The survey included 14 vignettes depicting new outpatient and post-hospital-discharge referrals. Participants were asked to select which (if any) virtual care modalities they would feel comfortable using and to specify a reason if they did not feel comfortable providing care virtually. Machine learning and natural language processing techniques were used to identify themes. Results: In total, 57 infectious disease physicians completed the survey. Respondents reported devoting 36.5% (SD, 18.4%) of their infectious disease practice to outpatient care, with 44.2% (SD, 23.2%) of it being delivered virtually. Respondents were more comfortable providing virtual care to post-hospital-discharge referrals who had been seen by an infectious disease physician compared to new outpatient referrals. When respondents were not comfortable with using any virtual care modality, the following common themes emerged: the need for physical examination, the importance of establishing a therapeutic relationship, the need for additional in-person tests or diagnostics, and patient counselling. Conclusion: This study provides a glimpse into the current state of virtual care use in Canada and some of the major themes that affect decision making for virtual versus in-person care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere106
JournalAntimicrobial Stewardship and Healthcare Epidemiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 30 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Epidemiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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