There are around 1200 hospitals in Canada. There are even more medical clinics. Although there’s a large number of healthcare facilities in Canada, there is still limited availability for these resources. Wait times for care, even though healthcare is covered, is quite long across British Columbia.
This is due to a host of factors, including not having enough Family Medicine Physicians to attach all the patients in British Columbia. There is also a higher level of demand in general on the healthcare system. There is actually a median wait time of up to 25.6 weeks between the referral from a Family Doctor to the actual receipt of care from a Specialist.
Telemedicine options have opened up access to healthcare. It has also increased efficiency across the industry. While the majority of telemedicine options are have previously been used in the field of radiology, it has become a new staple in forms of outpatient general care as well. A virtual walk-in clinic is a good example of that.
This guide will cover how the online walk-in clinic model works. We will also discuss how it’s changing the face of healthcare, and how you can establish one for yourself. Keep reading to learn more about this medical advancement on the patient care front.
Does an Online Walk-in Clinic Improve Access to Healthcare?
When searching “walk-in clinic near me” you will find Walk In as one of the top virtual clinic in Vancouver and surrounding areas. The technology applied to our model is advanced and is carefully thought out by British Columbia based Doctors.
By 2022, it’s estimated that the global telehealth market will be worth around $130 billion. This is a dramatic increase from the $38.7 billion it was valued at in 2018.
One of the main reasons this model has become popular so quickly is because of how online walk-in clinics are popping up everywhere. They’re now in grocery stores, pharmacies, and even some employers are beginning to offer them on-site.
A physical clinic creates walk-through traffic. A virtual model, is the same thing – except you don’t have to worry about the physical location. This means that patients have more options when it comes to where and when they seek care and what time they’d like to be seen.
Of course, there are also other reasons why this model is so appealing to patients. These include:
- No need for transportation to get to the clinic
- Convenient care that can be accessed from anywhere
- Increased availability of walk-in clinics (evenings and weekend hours for some)
- Shorter wait times
While the reasons to switch are ongoing, you may be wondering how it all works. Let’s take a look.
How Does an Online Walk-in Clinic Model Work?
An online walk-in clinic is staffed by healthcare providers who’re licensed and certified to practice medicine in that jurisdiction. They offer services from a remote perspective. These medical professionals can still review some medical records, provide prescriptions, and diagnose some minor conditions over the phone or through a live video chat session.
Most of these walk-in clinics also offer some sort of a telehealth platform that allows patients to connect with an online doctor in BC, nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, counsellors, or other allied health professionals quickly and easily.
Whether you’re looking for help managing your symptoms during cold or flu season, seeking treatment for minor injuries from home after an accident, or trying to get answers to your health questions without having to see a doctor in person, an online walk-in clinic can be a great option.
More on Online Walk-in Clinics
There are plenty of reasons to switch to an online walk-in clinic model, but in what other ways does it work? Let’s take a look.
The online walk-in clinic model’s designed to make patient access to care as convenient as possible. By using this method, patients can book appointments and receive care without having to leave their homes. This means that they don’t have to see a doctor in person for minor conditions. They also don’t have to worry about waiting in a walk-in clinic waiting room.
This model can also decrease waiting times for patients by six minutes when you compare it to facilities that don’t offer telemedicine options. The way that these clinics are run will vary by facility. However, regardless of operational structure, providers often logged on for appointments earlier than if they run appointments in a physical clinic.
Specifically, within 40% of telemedicine encounters, providers were showing up 14 minutes earlier. That is a significant amount of time saved. That doesn’t only decrease patient wait times, it also reinforces transitioning to a value-based care model. That’s because it allows for minor conditions to be managed effectively and efficiently for patients.
Walk-in clinics can transition to value-based models for their workflow. It is still simple to do without too much modification of an existing practice. Telehealth providers can diagnose some illnesses or conditions virtually. They can also make treatment recommendations like they would in a traditional setting.
During a visit, you would go through the traditional methods of relaying a timeline of any symptoms that a patient has. You would also get your patient’s medical history, as well as their history with prescription medications and so on. The main difference with this model is that you will be relying on an online platform.
What Services Can You Expect From an Online Walk-in Clinic?
Not all walk-in clinics are the same. The services that each one offers will differ depending on the province in which they’re located as well as the type of telehealth platform that they use.
However, there are some common services that you can expect. From most online walk-in clinics you’ll find:
- Consultations with primary care physicians
- Diagnosis and treatment of common conditions
- Episodic management of stable chronic conditions
- Prescription medications
- Lab testing and blood work
- Referrals for specialists
- Mental health and counseling services
- Nutritional counseling and diet plans
- Support with quitting smoking, losing weight, or managing stress
As you can see, there are plenty of benefits to using an online walk-in clinic model to access care. Whether you’re looking for a convenient way to get treatment independently or want to save yourself a trip to a physical location, this is an option that could be applied to anyone. Additionally, the benefits don’t stop there.
With online walk-in clinics, other integrations can take place. Some examples of this could be tele-radiology or even tele-psychology services. Patients can also be sent to attached physical locations through an online walk-in clinic.
The point here is that care can expand beyond traditional outpatient services. It can go into other forms of care making a variety of services more accessible for everyone.
The Benefits of Online Walk-In Clinics for Patients and Healthcare Providers
There are multiple benefits of a virtual clinic that both patients and providers experience. Here are 20 of those innovative benefits.
Patients love the fact that they can get care from anywhere, at any time. This streamlines almost any form of care that can be offered.
Online walk-in clinics could sometimes be open 24/7 or on weekends. This depends on the facility but they will often reflect hours of associated staff or outpatient services.
With shorter wait times and a streamlined registration process, patients can be seen by a provider much faster than in other settings. While improving Specialist services, different simple treatments can take much less time than in a physical location as well.
Quality of Care
Because providers can work remotely, there is less chance of exposure to contagious diseases and infections compared to traditional walk-in clinics or hospitals. With experienced Doctors, the quality of care should not be sub-standard when used appropriately.
Availability of Providers
Due to the high demand for care, online walk-in clinics are often able to recruit and retain top medical professionals. This ensures that patients receive the highest quality care available.
Privacy and Comfort
Since patients can access their virtual clinic from home or on the go, they don’t have to worry about traveling in public with illnesses or injuries. They also benefit from a more private experience as all interactions take place remotely.
Convenience for Caregivers
Patients who are caring for young children or elderly family members can access care without having to find someone else to look after these loved ones, making it easier for them to get the help they need at any time of day.
Increased Provider Productivity
By using a virtual care platform, providers can see more patients in a day than they would in a traditional walk-in clinic or hospital setting. The productivity increase spans past initial workflow and into patient care plans because of this.
Good Patient Outcomes
Studies show that patients who receive care via telehealth can have good health outcomes. This is likely because they have more timely access to care and can receive treatment more frequently. Good outcomes for patients is another reason why many clinics are switching to or adding in telehealth care options.
Enhanced Provider Satisfaction
Providers who use telehealth platforms report higher levels of satisfaction with their work than those who don’t. They also find it easier to maintain a work-life balance as they’re not tied to one location.
One of the biggest challenges in healthcare is no-shows when patients don’t show up for their scheduled appointment. This often leads to wasted time and resources. With an online walk-in clinic model, no-shows are reduced significantly as patients can access care on their own time.
Another challenge with traditional walk-in clinics is coordinating schedules so that multiple providers are available at the same time. By using a virtual platform, both providers and patients have more flexibility when it comes to setting appointments. Overall, this helps to improve overall efficiency.
Comprehensive Patient Profiles
In a traditional walk-in clinic or hospital setting, there is usually a long wait before seeing a provider due to the amount of paperwork they need to fill out beforehand. With an online walk-in clinic, patients can input their information into the system beforehand. This allows for a more streamlined visit.
Reduced Need for Travel
Patients who live in remote or rural areas often have to travel long distances to receive care. With an online walk-in clinic, they can get quality care without having to leave their homes.
Improved Access to Specialists
One of the benefits of telehealth is that it gives patients better access to Specialists who might not be available in their area. This is especially important for those with rare conditions or illnesses.
In a traditional healthcare setting, patients often feel like they’re in the dark when it comes to their treatment plan and the cost of care. With an online walk-in clinic, they can see all the options available to them and make an informed decision about their care as well as better reach their physician or care team.
One of the challenges of traditional healthcare is that there is often a disconnect between providers and patients due to time constraints. This can lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings about treatments. With an online walk-in clinic, providers and patients can communicate effectively, helping to improve overall care.
This can be helpful given that communication can now take form through different methods. Physicians could use email or secure messaging. This is also a benefit for younger demographics.
Online walk-in clinics offer both patients and providers greater flexibility when it comes to scheduling appointments and getting care. This is also beneficial for those with busy schedules or who live in remote areas.
Patients who use an online walk-in clinic are often empowered to take control of their healthcare. This makes it easier for them to manage their conditions or illnesses.
Challenges to Overcome
The online walk-in clinic model is becoming increasingly popular as patients seek more convenient and affordable healthcare options. However, there are several challenges associated with implementing this type of model.
One of the biggest challenges is ensuring that patients have access to quality care. This can be difficult to guarantee when doctors are not physically present with their patients.
Another challenge is ensuring that patients are properly informed about their medical options and make informed decisions about their care. Thankfully though, many platforms offer ways to forward patient education materials to the patient’s portal or preferred contact method.
There are several ways to overcome these challenges. One is to partner with a reputable online doctor’s service that can provide quality care. A good example would be to use Walk In. Walk In is an all-in-one online walk-in clinic offering a variety of services. A few of those services are:
- General medical care
- Complete telehealth
- Blood tests
You would also have access to other things like doctor’s notes or imaging requisitions. Another way to overcome some of these challenges is to make sure that patients are fully informed about their medical options. Online consultations with a physician are a good way to achieve transparency of care.
Whether you are a provider, patient, or healthcare administrator, adopting an online walk-in clinic model can offer multiple benefits. By being proactive about addressing these challenges and coming up with effective solutions, we can ensure that this growing trend continues to change the way healthcare’s delivered.
Key Challenges to Keep In Mind
While there are the obvious challenges a virtual clinic will have to overcome there are also others you may not have immediately thought of. Some of those are:
- Working with existing workflows throughout the health system
- Maintaining PIPEDA compliance
- Keeping up with other forms of security
- Technological integrations with your platform
- Connectivity and bandwidth issues
- Compatibility with multiple devices
- Overall adoption if you don’t have this initial model
- Pinpointing areas of opportunity to increase efficiency
- The initial cost
Many clinical challenges with telemedicine platforms in Canada have recently come to the forefront. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many physicians weren’t used to working only through virtual methods. That being said, many physicians adapted and learned to switch their clinical examination skills to virtual means.
The Future of Online Walk-in Clinics in Healthcare
As the demand for affordable and convenient healthcare solutions continues to grow, we can expect to see even more innovation in the world of online walk-in clinics. Some potential areas of interest include:
- Reduced wait times as a result of increased efficiency
- Better accessibility for patients with limited mobility or transportation options
- Improved patient engagement and satisfaction due to personalized care and support
- More affordable treatments and medications due to lower operating costs
With the right tools and technologies, online walk-in clinics have the potential to transform healthcare and decrease rushed care. By prioritizing transparency, accessibility, and quality of care, a patient’s needs can be met online.
Walk In is doing exactly that by allowing you to meet with physicians online for most minor needs that you would walk into a traditional clinic for.
More in Shaping The Future
Overall, you can think of an online walk-in clinic as an opportunity to connect patients with the right resources at the right time. It also allows you to connect them to the right type of care all in the right place.
For example, you may have immobile patients. In addition, those immobile patients could have financial constraints that keep them from seeking the care that they need. This means that they may not have the means for transportation to a doctor’s office.
The era of virtual healthcare has risen in popularity during and post-COVID-19. You can also think of an online walk-in clinic as an opportunity to address simple patient concerns. This could limit emergency room visits across the Canadian population if more walk-in clinic opportunities were offered. An online walk-in clinic in Vancouver is a good way to remain future proofed as well.
Virtual care provides significant convenience for diagnosis and treatment opportunities. This will also allow for the opportunity to be able to triage patients more effectively.
Look at the Numbers
When you look at the number of patients that visit the emergency room in Canada each year, it amounts to 17 million visits. There are about 43% of emergency room visits in Canada that ER physicians say aren’t emergent. And the thing is, Canadian hospitals are often overcrowded. Additionally, while many think that it’s from misuse of emergency services, it’s actually a systematic issue.
Virtual care is a method that could be added to emergency care in the future. This still means that people seeking care may be able to go elsewhere if an ER visit wasn’t needed. The number of ER visits on an annual basis could be a driving issue to overcrowding especially considering that means one in every five visits could’ve gone to a clinic first.
Online walk-in clinics can help to alleviate not only the number of people going to the emergency room in a year. It can also help to limit the increasing cost of national healthcare as a whole. This is one of the main ways that online healthcare is transforming medicine as we know it.
Online Healthcare Is Also Shaping Professions
Not only is virtual healthcare shaping medicine as an entire industry, but it’s also helping to shape the future of different healthcare professions. Telemedicine is constantly increasing engagement with patients.
The way this happens is that you’re able to maintain check-up appointments and patient care schedules more conveniently. There is also less chance that if you need to reschedule an appointment for a patient you wouldn’t be able to do so because of conflicting schedules with your availability and the patient’s availability.
Virtual consultations are also a great way for physicians to offer care needs to the patient in the form of triage. While this is pretty general, you can broaden your scope of care and create more jobs for healthcare professionals.
You can create job opportunities for healthcare workers across remote roles as well as hybrid roles. Virtual healthcare is going to allow for a better work environment for many healthcare workers and provide the opportunity for creating more jobs and more training opportunities as well.
How Is Virtual Healthcare Shaping Other Needs?
Let’s think about all online healthcare from another point of view. Think departmental and how a clinic can connect to other clinics, hospitals, and care services. While an online walk-in clinic may be an appropriate option for ambulatory care, it is not only limited to our patient services as we briefly mentioned earlier.
With advanced software options and technology expanding, physicians can read medical images from remote locations. If a clinic does not have an in-house radiologist, depending on the platform that they use to host their telehealth services, they can outsource these needs to other radiology departments. And since the care platform would be online, it doesn’t even have to be a department that is nearby.
The great thing about different telemedicine software being integrated with outpatient clinic platforms is that you can get second opinions from physicians in or out of a network with ease. You can even communicate with patients through the platforms as well.
This would often include sending films as long as you are PIPEDA compliant. You can also schedule follow-up visits if it’s needed.
Patient labs are another area where you would often see advancement through telehealth. While performing virtual medical visits, you would still be able to maintain direct access to lab testing. This could include web-enabled ancillary services or general panel testing.
There are also at-home kits for some conditions now. They can be sent to a patient’s home.
This increases the efficiency that telemedicine platforms offer. You can access your patient initially, schedule them for lab work, and send the kits to their homes for them to provide samples on their own.
All they would need to do is return the sample pack to the return address that the care platform provides. After that, results would be sent back to the clinic and the physician can decide how they want to relay any results to the patient. You can often update a patient’s chart within the platform that you use.
Oftentimes, many platforms have a portal that is specific for patients. This would allow them to review their results on their own whenever they are made available by the physician.
The same goes for standard prescriptions. The pharmaceutical industry is completely virtual compatible if physicians decide to use it. While you can consult with the patient in the same way that you would in a brick-and-mortar location, you can send scripts to their chosen pharmacy as easily from whichever device it is that you use.
If a clinic decided to use it, remote patient monitoring systems could be integrated with the platform as well to keep track of medication usage and effectiveness firsthand.
Having an online walk-in clinic would allow you to get results from tests faster, fill prescriptions in more convenient ways, and leverage those digital tools to improve processes related to post-care plans.
Did you know that there is such a thing as teledermatology? There is a telehealth version of almost any type of healthcare. Virtual check-in services can be offered to patients by dermatologists and other clinicians.
This can be done for not only established patients but new patients as well. That is one of the pros when you have access to an online clinic. You can be seen as a new patient as easily.
This can be done by sending patients initial paperwork that would be filled out through email, or via their patient portal. With disciplines like this, there would often be times when the physician would have the patient use a camera at close angles. This is so they can observe areas that the patient might be concerned about.
The way to think about this is that the patient is allowing the equipment that they are provided with by their doctor, or that they already have, to be used as the physician’s eyes.
What Applications Are Online Clinics Best For?
When you think about the different applications where an online clinic would be appropriate, they will be appropriate in many common settings. By giving patients and physicians access to each other through nothing more than an internet connection, you’re allowing for care to be transformed from traditional models to something more innovative and personable.
While telemedicine is not going to be appropriate for every patient’s needs, it’s a proactive step that many patients can benefit from. The main point is that the option is there. It is not appropriate for certain scenarios however.
Telemedicine is a good way to create a network of multidisciplinary practices and physicians. This can widen a network of care for patients. In addition, using a service like Walk In makes it easier.
By using a service like Walk In’s online walk-in clinic, you are allowing yourself to visit an online doctor for most minor conditions. It’s as simple as registering your information, connecting with an available physician, and getting diagnosed and treated all within one visit.
Whether you need general advice, a blood test, or a prescription filled, Walk In allows you to walk-in as if you were really there.
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Walk In does not provide medical advice. The contents of this website, including text, graphics, images and any other material are intended for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Although efforts are taken to keep any medical information on the website updated, we cannot guarantee that the information on our website is correct or reflects the most up-to-date medical information.
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