Support for Indigenous Patients in Addressing Communication Challenges

Overcoming communication challenges in support for Indigenous Patient access to care.

In the June 2024 meeting of the Connected Healthcare Community, we learned about the Alberta Indigenous Virtual Care Clinic (AIVCC), important services the clinic team provides, and how they manage communication challenges with some patients.

The Alberta Indigenous Virtual Care Clinic opened in October of 2020 to offer remote healthcare options during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since opening, the AIVCC team has grown to include 31 primary care physicians, 1 registered nurse, and mental health support with 7 psychologists and 2 psychiatrists, plus patient navigators and medical office assistants. The clinic provides virtual consultation by phone or video with a family practitioner for non-urgent care matters.

Alberta Indigenous Virtual Care Clinic Logo

AIVCC services are grounded in five pillars: 

  1. Provide timely and appropriate access to health care services. 
  2. Ensure quality of care and continuous improvement. 
  3. Build strong relationships with the goal of achieving improved health outcomes. 
  4. Support and promote the development of new knowledge as determined and directed by the community. 
  5. Teach new learners and foster continuing professional education.

Proven High-quality Indigenous Virtual Care:

The work of AIVCC was highlighted in the Indigenous Primary Health Care Advisory Panel final report titled, “Honouring our Roots: Growing together towards a culturally safe, wholistic primary health care system for Indigenous peoples.” The report noted that the clinic provides high-quality Indigenous virtual care, while also reducing the burden on acute care services, continuing care, addictions and mental health, and other primary care services within Alberta. Of course, being virtual in nature, AIVCC is highly cost-effective with low overhead related to physical clinic infrastructure. 

The report noted that an increase in virtual primary care demonstrated the following positive outcomes: 

  • Decreased driving time and travel costs
  • Improved flexibility
  • Improved patient autonomy
  • Decreased privacy concerns
  • Improved patient-physician relationship
  • Improved personal, physical, and cultural safety

What you will Learn about Indigenous Virtual Care:

Presenter and Clinic manager of the Alberta Indigenous Virtual Care Clinic, Michelle Hoeber, has an extensive background in healthcare program delivery and over a decade of experience in Telehealth and eHealth implementation and management. She is a fountain of knowledge in the frontline realities of remote patient engagement and passionate about support for Indigenous patients in access to healthcare.

Watch the recording to learn effective strategies implemented for improving connectivity, access to care, and attachment for patients experiencing technology limitations and frequent relocation

You’ll also review solutions to challenges the Indigenous virtual clinic faced. Some of the challenges are a shortage of primary care physicians, mistrust of the healthcare system, and the protection of private information over virtual interactions. Additionally, Michelle explained how she and the clinic team securely send appointment reminders and collect patient data through the Brightsquid secure online forms service.

To attend future Connected Healthcare Community meetings live, register here.