Ted Findlay, DO, CCFP, FCFP,1 Dr. Hamilton Hall, MD, FRCSC,2

1 is on Medical Staff with the Calgary Chronic Pain Centre at Alberta Health Services, Calgary Zone in Calgary, Alberta.
2 is a Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto. He is the Medical Director, CBI Health Group and Executive Director of the Canadian Spine Society in Toronto, Ontario.


Abstract:The COVID-19 global pandemic has had a rapid and massive impact on health care delivery worldwide. Two of the first public health measures applied in Canada and most other developed nations have been some variety of social distancing and "stay at home" orders, which limit the ability of patients to access non-urgent health care services. Patients with chronic pain including low back pain comprise some of the most disadvantaged populations where ongoing support from their family physician is an essential aspect of management. Virtual patient care has rapidly become one of the primary means to deliver of non-urgent management and is, in many ways, ideally suited for the support of chronic low back pain patients. It will continue to be used not only until face to face appointments are again permitted but may become a permanent feature of continuing care.
Key Words: COVID-19; virtual care; video appointments; low back pain; communication.

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1. Virtual patient care is not a new concept, but its use has been accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. Even pre-dating the COVID-19 pandemic, organized medicine in Canada has come out strongly in favor of the delivery of health care by virtual means.
3. There are many on-line resources that can be accessed by patients to help manage their low back pain during pandemic limitations on direct patient contact.
4. Positive patient identification and documentation of consent are requirements for virtual care delivery.
5. Both the physician and the patient have a role to play in ensuring appropriate privacy for the virtual visit.
Have your patient download and test any required communications software prior to their virtual appointment.
Commercial video communication software can be compliant with provincial personal privacy and information protection laws, check with your provincial medical association and/or provincial College of Physicians and Surgeons to be certain that approved software is being used.
Have the patient perform any required clinical measurements and list current medications and any required refills prior to the start of the virtual appointment.
Make sure that unidentified number call blocking does not prevent the virtual appointment from being completed.
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