Addressing differential access to virtual care due to technology inequities – Please help
We appreciate the following contribution from North Western Toronto Ontario Health Team BPSO OHT – an OHT supported by RNAO.
COVID-19 has challenged the health care system to move towards virtual care for so many community services. The North Western Toronto Ontario Health Team BPSO OHT has collectively identified issues related to inequitable access to care with this shift. Some of our most vulnerable clients who need services to deal with mental health and addictions, chronic health issues, and other health issues also struggle with added barriers at this time when care is primarily virtual. Clients who do not have cell phones or computers, or cannot purchase enough data on their devices for a virtual appointment, are not able to continue their care and this increases their health risk. Adding to this inequity is availability of technology devices to health care agencies. Smaller agencies that may not have the ability to provide their workforce with additional laptops or cell phones will not be in a position to provide virtual care.
We want to work with others to problem solve this issue. We are aware that Telus is offering free cell phones to clients unable to access technology. More information about this can be accessed here. We have also learned that Shaw has made Shaw hotspots available without a login or Shaw ID. More information can be found here. Additionally, Rogers Communications is offering support to customers through flexible payment options and other offerings listed on their website here. Bell is also supporting their customers and Canadians through their services and donations, which can be viewed here.
Are there other resources available to our clients? If you are a company who provides technology products or support, is there help you can offer to clients or health care agencies at this time?
We invite the readers of this blog to work with us to problem solve this issue. If you have resources or ideas, please let us know. We will share the information more broadly and work to enable more of our clients to continue much needed care. Contact Oliwia Klej <firstname.lastname@example.org>