Enhanced virtual care codes improve access to mental health care

March 25, 2022

Dr. Vespa Michelle Warren, AMA President

Dear Members:

I am pleased to inform you that today the AMA and Alberta Health are jointly announcing changes to virtual care billing codes that will allow psychiatrists to provide additional virtual care for: 

  • Indirect care as part of a psychiatric consultation.
  • Time spent discussing a child’s treatment with their guardian (currently, psychiatrists can only bill when talking with a patient directly).

Implementing appropriate virtual care codes like these was a priority issue that AMA and government agreed to have addressed. I’m relieved to see these changes. They will help us fill another gap in mental health care delivery and improve practice stability for psychiatrists.
 
The AMA believes that we need a comprehensive physician compensation framework that deals with all aspects of compensation, including virtual care codes. We are seeking this through negotiations and believe that this should be a goal of our interest-based discussions. As such, all further fee and payment changes should be considered in that context at the negotiating table.
 
There are other high priority items that are still not addressed, but I do think these new codes demonstrate progress. As always, there is still more work required and I want to assure members that we will continue to advocate for further virtual care improvements.
 
If you have any questions about today’s joint announcement, or any other matters, please reach out to me at president@albertadoctors.org
 
Sincerely,

Vesta Michelle Warren, MD, CCFP, FCFP
President, Alberta Medical Association

The AMA advances patient-centered, quality care by advocating for and supporting physician leadership and wellness.