Telehealth: Key Facts About Virtual Healthcare in Canada

Telehealth: Key Facts About Virtual Healthcare in Canada

Telehealth in Canada isn’t new, but it’s become far more prevalent in the wake of COVID 19—and that’s good news for both employees and employers. As a business owner, the virtual healthcare boom could offer a range of benefits for your company, from reduced absenteeism to lower group benefit rates.

Let’s take a closer look at virtual healthcare in Canada, including how it works, top services, its potential impact on your business, and much more.

Table of Contents

What Is Telehealth?

By definition, telehealth is the “remote diagnosis and treatment of patients.” Medical professionals can provide medical and health services to patients through telecommunication technology like cell phones, tablets, and laptop computers.

These services don’t require the patient to be physically present inside a hospital or physician’s office for a physical exam. The service also allows health professionals to monitor their patient’s health remotely through virtual testing or wearables to monitor vitals.

Telehealth is synonymous with telemedicine and virtual care. It’s not ideal for emergency services, but it’s incredibly beneficial for people who need non-emergent medical assistance but can’t go to a walk-in clinic, hospital, doctor’s office, or medical center for whatever reason.

Telehealth in Canada isn’t a new concept. Government agencies in Canada invested resources into the development of telemedicine as early as the 1960s. During that period, agencies sought new methods to bring quality medical services to rural populations who may otherwise not receive the care they need.

Some examples of early innovations in telehealth include the use of microwave technology to transmit medical information like x-rays between hospitals or providing consultations remotely via telephone.

Test results, patient records, and long-distance patience monitoring have been a standard for decades. Technological advancements continue to expand the availability and capabilities of telemedicine throughout Canada and the rest of the world.

Between 2015 and 2018, the percentage of physicians participating in some form of telehealth increased by 340%.

One reason for that increase is the widespread availability of mobile devices with video, audio, and imaging capabilities, which gives healthcare professionals the ability to connect and communicate with patients long-distance. Mobile video conferencing and 4G data networks make virtual healthcare accessible to people who can’t or won’t travel to an office.

How Does Telemedicine Work in Canada?

In most cases, telemedicine in Canada involves these steps:

  1. A patient will log into a telehealth app or website and answer questions about themselves and their medical history.
  2. The patient will receive a consultation with a health professional like a nurse, therapist, life coach, or physician who can make a diagnosis or provide medical advice about the patient’s medical concerns.
  3. After the consultation, the health professional will give the patient a care plan, including prescriptions with free delivery, lab tests, or referrals to a specialist for additional treatment.
  4. The patient will receive a follow-up call or email from the healthcare provider no later than a week after the initial consultation and diagnosis.


Though the process of receiving virtual care is relatively simple in most cases, telemedicine offers evaluations and treatments for various medical and health issues, including, but not limited to:

  • Mental disorders like depression and anxiety
  • Respiratory problems related to cold, flu, and allergies
  • Sore throat
  • Muscular and joint paint
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Skin issues, such as eczema, acne, and rashes
  • Nutritional health


While adoption rates vary between specialties,

historically, Canada has been slower in adopting telemedicine than other parts of the world, such as the United States and the United Kingdom. Still, it’s a desired service among most Canadian residents.

Most people view telemedicine as a convenient way to receive high-quality medical care quickly. About 71% of Canadian citizens would like to see some form of virtual healthcare become the norm, whether just making appointments online or having actual telehealth appointments.

Telemedicine in Canada has come a long way, and it’s continuing to make strides. However, there are several barriers to virtual care the government is attempting to understand and overcome to make telehealth services in Canada better and more accessible.

Governance of Compensation Mechanisms

Licensure Requirements

Lack of Connectivity

Why Are Virtual Care Options Gaining Popularity?

Despite its setbacks and shortcomings, telemedicine in Canada is widely available in various capacities, and it’s continuing to gain traction among residents. One recent reason for the boost in virtual care is the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in the early months of 2020.

With the virus’s arrival and the inability to visit physical doctor’s offices and hospitals due to provincial shutdowns, people began looking more closely at virtual care. By March 2020, interest in Maple Corp, a leading Canadian telehealth company, rose substantially. During that time, the company’s statistics showed client visits exceeding 3,000 per day.

Now that more providers have developed virtual healthcare solutions, they’re likely here to stay. While telemedicine may have found increased demand as a result of COVID-19, its benefits are undeniable.

Benefits of Telehealth in Canada

Telemedicine is convenient because it provides on-demand access to health professionals and enables people to receive the care they need to improve their health no matter where they are. Remote services may lead to referrals to other doctors, care plans, medications, and more, but it all plays into the wellness of Canadian residents.

Situations involving mental health concerns, body pains, or feelings of unwellness generally don’t require emergency room visits. In some cases, people also may be too embarrassed to go to a walk-in clinic and discuss their symptoms in person and deal with wait times.

With telemedicine services through apps and websites, Canadians across the country can receive the medical advice they need from qualified professionals without leaving their homes. Virtual patients will receive affordable care at their convenience in a comfortable setting that will help them discuss their medical concerns with less anxiety.

Just a small sampling of the benefits of remote healthcare include:

  • Decreased wait times
  • Reduced travel times and expenses
  • Improved chronic disease management
  • Reduced embarrassment about health concerns and medical history with face-to-face interactions
  • Reduced medical costs
  • Increased access to healthcare tools, advice, and care plans


Another advantage of virtual healthcare is its versatility. Telemedicine has applications in nearly every healthcare realm, in cases, eliminating the need for in-person visits entirely. That helps prevent the spread of disease, enhances healthcare access for those with mobility issues or in remote locations, and increases the number of people a healthcare provider can see in a single day.


Group Telemedicine in Canada

Many businesses are becoming aware of the benefits of virtual healthcare in Canada, and, as a result, options to include telemedicine as part of group insurance coverage plans for employees are on the rise. Roughly four million Canadians don’t have a primary care physician, which can lead to undiagnosed and untreated health issues that affect their quality of life.

By including telemedicine in your group healthcare package, you can help your employees bridge the gap between provincial plans and their actual healthcare needs without the expense of private insurance.

Advantages of Telehealth in Canada for Employers

Advantages of Telehealth in Canada for Employees

Top Virtual Care Services in Canada

Canadians seeking non-emergency telemedicine services from health professionals have plenty of options available. Here are some of the top virtual care services in Canada as of 2021:

Provincial Telehealth Services


Tia Health


Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN)

Inkblot Therapy

Improve Access to Telehealth in Canada With Group Benefits

Even with the recent virtual healthcare boom, finding an insurance provider that offers telehealth as part of their group benefits coverage options can be challenging. At Group Enroll, we make it simple. As a leading Canadian insurance broker, our knowledgeable team can help you compare quotes and connect with insurance agencies that offer a plethora of affordable services for group plans, including telehealth coverage.

Adding telehealth options to your group plan will drastically improve the lives of your workers—especially those who don’t have primary doctors—while offering a long list of benefits for your business. If you’re ready to explore your options, just fill out our quick quote form, or email us at We’re always happy to answer questions. We’re located at 10 Great Gulf Drive, Unit 5, Vaughan, ON, L4K 5W1.