Virtual Health & The Future of EM

Kendall Ho
EM Network Real-Time Support Lead

What is Virtual health and How Can It Help?

Digital health is fast becoming a part of every practice, so how does virtual health fit into this changing landscape and how can it help your practice? Dr. Kendall Ho describes times of uncertainty during his practice when he could lean on peers and mentors ─ and times when help was nowhere to be found. “There are certain cases where it felt like jumping off a cliff, but you have to make those decisions autonomously”, says Kendall.

There are certain cases where it felt like jumping off a cliff

Virtual health can help in those times of isolation and uncertainty. “For example”, Kendall says, “a complex issue that comes up, a procedure that’s not quite what we usually do, a case that comes in that we don’t usually have exposure to”. These are times when on-demand peer support via video chat and secure text messaging to reach peers can provide crucial assistance.

How is the EM Network Working to Implement Virtual Health?

Currently, Kendall and his team are gathering input from EM Network members on how they feel virtual care can be most helpful to their practice. Have your say.

EM Network virtual health pilot projects have shown successful adoption of virtual health improves patient care, reduces transfers, and strengthens relationships among participants at all sites. Currently, Kendall is facilitating the implementation of virtual support for EM practitioners across BC. Dubbed eVISTA, emergency Virtual In-time Support for Technology-enabled Assessments, the project aim is to provide a window into each other’s practice.

For Kendall the ultimate goal of virtual support in BC is “to support and build relationships so we can help each other as neighbours, so we can deliver excellence of care to any EM patient in the province.”

“It may sound corny,” says Kendall, “but the people are the most exciting part. I love technology. I’m a geek. But at the end of the day, technology should only be a servant to the best types of practice and relationships which deliver the best care.”

Technology should only be a servant to the best types of practice and relationships which deliver the best care

What Does the Future of Digital Medicine Look Like?

While emergency medicine virtual support lies in our immediate future, I asked Kendall to tell me what lies beyond that horizon. Here is what he is looking forward to:

  1. Digitizing Health Care – “We are just scratching the surface of digital health, with the promise of personalized medicine in the future.”
  2. Building Relationships – “Relationships can be built over time and space. Our practice is not limited to our geography. We will be able to treat patients anywhere.”
  3. Transformation – Adopting new practices and new ways of educating the next generation of doctors. “The next generation will transform the way emergency medicine is delivered. Our specialty will look very different tomorrow.”

Our specialty will look very different tomorrow

Dr. Kendall Ho is a practicing emergency medicine specialist, lead of the UBC Digital Emergency Medicine Office, and the BC EM Network Real-Time Support Lead. For more information on the eVista project, contact Dr. Ho at