Health care systems and providers have rapidly adapted to virtual care delivery during this unprecedented time. Clinical programs initiated a variety of virtual care delivery models to maintain access to care, preserve personal protective equipment, and minimize infectious disease spread. Herein, we first describe the context within paediatric health delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada that fueled the rise of virtual care delivery. We then summarize the development, implementation, and beneficial impact of the innovative virtual care delivery programs currently in use at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) for both inpatient and outpatient care, specifically in our ambulatory clinics, emergency department, and mental health program. We highlight the transferable unique ways CHEO has integrated virtual care delivery through our governance structure, stakeholder engagement including patient, caregivers and health care providers and staff, development, and use of eHealth tools and novel approaches for patient care requiring physical assessment. We conclude with our vision for the future of virtual care, one component of paediatric care delivery in the post-COVID-19 era, which requires a common framework for virtual care evaluation. Importantly, rapid implementation of a primarily virtual care model at CHEO sustained high volume quality paediatric care. We believe many of these programs should and will remain in the post-pandemic era. A comprehensive, unified approach to evaluation is essential to yield meaningful results that inform sustainable care delivery models that integrate virtual care, and ultimately help ensure the best health outcomes for our patients.
Areas of Research: Virtual care