Sunnybrook launches virtual Emergency Department pilot project

– December 2, 2020

Dear North Toronto OHT partners,

Sunnybrook is pleased to tell you about our pilot project: Sunnybrook’s virtual Emergency Department.

The project will see a limited number of virtual Emergency Department appointments available each day from 2 pm to 9 pm. Patients with urgent but not life-threatening health concerns can book an appointment to speak with an emergency room physician over Zoom.

Sunnybrook’s Emergency Department saw a decrease in patient visits during Wave 1 of the pandemic, likely due to patient fears of COVID-19.

By offering same-day virtual appointments with emergency department physicians, this pilot aims to reach patients in their homes so that they do not have to come to the hospital. It also aims to service under-served populations, reduce wait times and improve the patient and family experience.

Sunnybrook’s virtual Emergency Department is part of a six-month pilot that also involves Unity Health and University Health Network.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Appointments are for urgent health concerns that are not life-threatening.
  • Patients should first try to book an appointment with their family doctor.
  • Patients can book a virtual Emergency Department appointment for the same day. The appointment booking system opens at 12 pm.
  • The virtual Emergency Department is open 2 pm – 9 pm.
  • Patients must have a valid Ontario Health Card to use the Virtual Emergency Department and be in Ontario at the time of the appointment.
  • While it’s open to anyone in Ontario with an Ontario Health Card, patients are encouraged to use an emergency department near to them.
  • Appointments can be booked online or by phone.
  • Appointments take place on Zoom. Patients will need a computer or smartphone, a quiet space and internet access.

The virtual Emergency Department will provide another option for family physicians and community partners to access care for their patients/clients in an integrated manner without necessarily having patients attend the hospital in person. Notes from the patient’s visit will be available on HRM (Health Report Manager) and provided back to the patient’s circle of care, including any follow-up recommendations or support services.

We know that access to technology and the internet can be a barrier for some of our clients. We are hopeful that you may be able to help facilitate virtual visits from your facility, where applicable. We would also be pleased to hear your feedback about how to make access easier for your clients or residents.

Patients experiencing a medical emergency should call 911 or visit their closest emergency department.

You can find more information at

If you have any questions about who should access the virtual Emergency Department and how, please contact or 416-480-6100 ext. 3904.

Download our poster (PDF)