Education and training for virtual care

If the benefits of virtual care are to be fully realized within the health care system, virtual care must be incorporated into the medical curriculum and continuing professional development. As futurist Bartalan Meskó has written, virtual care/digital health is not simply a matter of moving to a new platform; it requires a cultural transformation.

  • Are you aware of any changes to curriculum that have been made to address this education and training gap for virtual care? What are the lessons learned?
  • In an ideal state, what would this education and training look like for medical students and is there a way to standardize this approach across the country?
  • What could be done to ensure the same standard of training for practising physicians?
  • There is an ongoing need to provide educational resources on virtual care and digital health (health informatics) both to physician learners and physicians in practice.

    However, influencing change in Medical education is quite challenging, particularly changes in our medical schools' curricula and in residency training. Rajaram et al recently captured these challenges in their excellent article in the Canadian Family Physician journal:

    Canada Health Infoway partnered with the AFMC from 2011 to 2018, involving digital health savvy physician leaders from across Canada, to create and promote resources encouraging the integration of digital health into medical education.

    My response to the CFP article summarizes the outputs of the AFMC-Infoway collaboration (, which includes .

    Given the rapid changes in virtual care and digital technologies, an adaptable, flexible approach to education and training might hold promise - for example, a series of short, CME-accredited, easily digestible modules profiling best practices, and how they might be adapted to the varied practice and remuneration models across Canada. Think nationally, but deliver content with local relevance.

    Kudos to the Virtual Care Task Force for assembling many key players required to make an impact in this space. There may yet be an opportunity to leverage legacy resources and tools for future initiatives.

    Dr. R. Bhyat, Canada Health Infoway

  • Thank you  for your thoughtful comment. We appreciate your perspective and your ideas. As you know, the VCTF is  looking specifically at medical education and we will ensure your comment and the links provided are shared with the group. 

    Thanks for sharing the link to e-health resources. Is there a particular educational resource (or resources) on virtual care and digital health that you would especially recommend? We have a resources section as part of this Community of Interest and would love to be able to post additional resources that members of the community might also find useful.

    Thank you again.

    Jennifer Kitts, Senior Director Health Policy  

  • Hi Jennifer,

    Please excuse the long delay in responding to your question.

    Here are a few specific educational resources on virtual care and digital health that I would recommend, keeping in mind that they may be somewhat out of date. They are listed in order from most recent to oldest.

    1) Best Advice Guide: Advanced and Meaningful Use of EMRs
    - A partnership between the CFPC and Infoway, this modular guide was written for busy family physicians by family physicians, providing a national view of the EMR landscape.
    - Module 2 (Using EMRs to Connect with Other Care Settings) and Module 6 (Patient-oriented Services) focus on virtual care in relation to EMR workflow.

    2) e-Communication and Patient Care
    - An excellent interactive educational module produced by Dr. Lyndsay Davidson, Stephanie Cheon, and Lynel Jackson at Queen's University.

    3) Two French language resources relating to electronic communications between clinicians, and with patients, produced by le Collège des médecins du Québec (CMQ).


    4) Health Communication Management - Email with patients
    - This module, part of an AFMC-Infoway faculty development collaboration, covers basic principles around digital communication in a health care setting. Dated but still relevant. Authors: Dr. Sharon Domb, Dr. Aviv Shachak, Dr. Shmuel Reis, Dr. Andre Kushniruk, and Dr. Elizabeth Borycki.

    Kind regards,

    Dr. R. Bhyat, Canada Health Infoway