Virtual walk-in clinics have arrived 

Tristan Meroni // Contributor 

Who wants to spend hours in the waiting room of a walk-in clinic? Do you wish you could speak with a doctor on your computer or phone, from the comfort of your home? Now you can.  

Virtual clinics link anyone with a BC Health Card to a licensed doctor, who can provide general health advice, referrals, doctor’s notes, prescriptions, travel consultations, counselling, lab reviews and requests. Doctors are available seven days a week, and the service allows patients to schedule their own time slot; meaning no dealing with real-world waiting rooms filled with other sick individuals who all wish they were home in bed. 

The focus of virtual walk-in clinics is convenience, and it also allows a doctor to see more patients throughout the day. We would all like to be as efficient as possible with our schedule, and this service allows for it. When one becomes sick, the last thing we want to do is commute to a clinic, and wait for hours until we can get advice from a general practitioner. Now, from the comfort of your bed, you can book online using your mobile device or computer and schedule your appointment within minutes. Doctors can see patients from the comfort of their home office, so it’s a win for both parties involved.  

I personally use virtual walk-in clinics when I need to see a doctor—it’s quick, easy and provides me with the same end result. It’s great for asking general questions, or getting a refill on your medication. However, I will admit there are some limitations and kinks that need to be worked out. A few weeks ago, after setting up an appointment for my sore throat, I quickly realized that the doctor could not help unless they were to see me in person. This means virtual walk-in clinic doctors will not be the answer to all situations.  

Privacy concerns are always an issue with online services. During one of my appointments, I noticed a third person had joined our video chat while I was sharing my medical history with the doctor. It seems that the online receptionist had accidentally connected the next patient into our chat before making sure that I had finished my appointment. It will be important for virtual walk-in clinics to master the flow of their patient care, because if they can’t ensure patient privacy it may deter individuals from continuing with their online services. 

Improvements could involve a more secure online patient ecosystem, though there are technological limitations that we currently face. Video chats present a physical barrier, meaning doctors cannot properly address all issues. Virtual clinics are still in their infancy. As the technology of these businesses mature and once the public becomes more comfortable, they will be inclined to take advantage; why wouldn’t you? It’s free.  

If you’re on the fence about using this service, or simply haven’t heard of it before, I highly recommend that you give it a chance and see for yourself. Virtual walk-in clinics are revolutionizing the way we communicate with doctors, and this is just the beginning.  

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