Despite years of discussions between politicians and doctors, the Quebec government couldn’t find a way to pay its general practitioners for phone and video consultations with patients.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Premier Legault called a public health emergency March 14, sweeping aside legislative hurdles as well as the bureaucratic inertia of Quebec’s health care network. Within days, family doctors across the province could be paid to examine patients by phone or video.
But so-called telemedicine is likely just one of the technological legacies this crisis will leave. Experts in medicine, artificial intelligence, education and many other fields say they expect the pandemic to fast-forward innovations that will benefit the world long after the novel coronavirus has run its course.
Dr. Louis Godin, president of Quebec’s federation of general practitioners, said the pandemic has done what years of talk failed to accomplish.
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“Often there are positive things that happen during crises,” he said in a recent interview. “It allows us, sometimes, to develop things much faster than we would have otherwise done.”
Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu told a Senate committee last week that the “uptick” in virtual care in Quebec and across Canada — which includes screening for COVID-19 — will leave “an amazing legacy in terms of our ability to access physicians in the 21st century.”
“If there’s any silver lining to this crisis whatsoever,” she continued,