Auditor General Demands Action Toward Virtual Care Expansion, Transparency Issues and Long-Term Care

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Bonnie Lysyk

Today, Bonnie Lysyk issued 13 value-for-money audits in her annual report, which also looked at consumer protection in the bereavement sector, the review and implementation of school curricula, and other issues.

Lysyk’s report highlights concern over the slow expansion of virtual health-care services, Ontario’s retirement homes having increased numbers of residents who should be in long-term care, and its gaming, alcohol and cannabis regulator lacking transparency.

Lysyk found Ontario has been slow to integrate virtual care services with its health-care system, and while the government relaxed rules around billing for remote care this year to accommodate the surge in demand, that work will need to accelerate after the pandemic.

The auditor found the Ontario Telemedicine Network, which offers remote care, and the Ministry of Health “do not have effective systems and procedures in place to offer virtual care services more long term in a cost-efficient manner to meet Ontarians’ needs.”

What’s more, she said, the audit found “numerous cases” where physicians had “significantly high” billings for virtual care, including one where a doctor billed $1.7 million for remote services in 2019-2020 and another $1.9 million for in-person services. That doctor reported seeing as many as 321 patients virtually in one day, the report said.

Lysyk also raised concerns about the proliferation of private, for-pay virtual care services, saying they have “created risk of unequal access to health care, as well as oversight risk” since they are not under provincial purview.

The report also delves into the management and operation of Ontario’s 770 retirement homes and found an increasing number of people in those facilities require a higher level of care that could more suitably be provided in a long-term care facility.

More than 4,000 patients who no longer needed acute care in hospitals were discharged to retirement homes in 2019-2020, the auditor found. “Many of those people had health profiles similar to residents in long-term-care homes,” Lysyk said.

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Colette Linden
Colette Linden is a graduate of the three-year Broadcast Journalism and Communications Media program from Mohawk College before heading to McMaster University to obtain her degree in Public Relations. In addition, Colette has a certificate in Writing for Publication and a certificate of Competency in the French Language, . A recent resident of Sault Ste Marie, this Hamilton native gained experience working at TSN, the Ontario Medical Association and spent 14-years with the Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA) as the Communications Manager. A Mother of two amazing boys, Connor & Dante, Colette is a die-hard sports fan with a passion for government affairs and hopes to one day represent this City on Council. Focusing on Politics, Indigenous Affairs and Local News, Colette also reports the latest in Sports both locally and professionally. Colette joined the Superior Media Team in September of 2019 and is thankful to finish out her career with such a family-oriented and community-oriented team.