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It’s your doctors calling: Understanding virtual appointments

In recent news you may have heard the terms “virtual care”  or “telehealth” and might be wondering what they mean. Essentially, instead of seeing your doctor at their office, you can have your appointment done virtually in the comfort of your own home.

Virtual care promotes social/physical distancing, which is important right now as we try to limit the spread of COVID-19. Fortunately, most doctors can now offer medical appointments virtually, either using a computer and video software or the telephone. The video conferencing software is secure and private, as is your medical record.

Improves access

More than ensuring that you can still get medical care during COVID-19, virtual care improves access for all Nova Scotians. It also means doctors can deliver care safely and effectively.

How does it work?

Let’s say your next appointment is a video chat. Someone from your doctor’s office will email you a link. Most computers, laptops and tablets have a webcam built into the top of the screen. When you click the link, you will be able to see your doctor and when you turn on your camera, they will be able to see you. We know that many Nova Scotians don’t have access to high-speed internet. Don’t worry—your doctor can call you on the phone.

Fortunately, many conditions can be treated by your doctor virtually. For example, you can talk about your chronic condition, or ask a question about a medication you’re taking. In fact, virtual care should be your first option for appointments where physical contact is not required.

In person appointments 

That said, there are still medical procedures that can only be done in person. For example, it’s important to visit your family doctor in person for both prenatal and postnatal care. Babies also need to come in for their 72-hour newborn checkup and their regularly scheduled vaccinations.

If you’re not sure whether you should see your doctor in person, give them a call and ask. Remember—not all walk-in clinics are permitted to provide virtual care. Call before you go to be sure that this is an option for you.

Virtual appointments

In these uncertain times, and in better times ahead, virtual care is an important service that helps Nova Scotians stay well by improving access and efficiency to health-care services.

In the midst of a global health pandemic, many people still require routine care. Virtual care helps deliver that care safely and effectively, both for COVID-19 related illness and many other health concerns. If you’re feeling unwell, require routine follow-up with your doctor or have a health concern, call your doctor and ask if you can have a virtual appointment.


If you’re concerned that you have come into contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or you’re showing symptoms of COVID-19, use the 811 online assessment tool to determine if you should call 811. If you need to be tested, an appointment will be made on your behalf at your local assessment centre.  Do not visit your doctor’s office if you think you could have COVID-19. 

In case of emergency, call 911.

If you have general questions about COVID-19, visit the provincial coronavirus info hub or call the toll-free federal info line at 1-833-784-4397.

More details on self-isolation
COVID-19-related restrictions in Nova Scotia

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