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A Guide To Developing Live Virtual Group Education

Version 1.0, July 2021

Step 3: Choose a virtual platform

It is important to consider the platform before you start to create your content. It may affect how you structure your session, what elements you build in and which interactive features you have available.

Check with your IT Department, Telehealth, or Telemedicine program to find out what virtual platforms are supported by your organization.

Note: For any platform, you may need to obtain formal consent from patients for e-communications, advertising or to host your virtual group education. Check with your privacy and communications teams if you are unsure.

Note to self: Ensure the virtual platform complies with both PHIPA and PIPEDA

If your organization doesn't have a preferred platform, consider your choices based on:

  • Privacy: What level of personal protection does it provide? For health care organizations, any virtual platform must comply with both PHIPA (Personal Health Information Privacy Act, Ontario) and PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, Canada).
  • Accessibility: Does it offer features such as closed captioning, keyboard shortcuts and spotlighting or pinning videos?
  • Ease of use: Is the interface intuitive and easy for participants, educators and facilitators to navigate? Will it require participants to create an account or can they join as a guest?
  • Access:  Can it be used on a variety of devices, such as computers, smartphones, and tablets? Is it available in the Google Play and Apple App stores?  
  • Cost: Does it offer different types of accounts? What are the costs (and features based on cost)? Are they recurring or one-time costs?
  • Capacity: Does it have limits on number of attendees or session duration? This might impact both your content and how many participants you can invite.
  • Interactivity: Does it have features like live chat, Q&A, share screen, ability to show both the speaker and slides simultaneously, reaction buttons, breakout rooms, and polling?
  • Facilitation options: Can you adjust participants' camera and microphone access to ensure safety, sound quality and minimize unexpected interruptions?
  • Recording: What options are available? Can you limit it's availability to a specific timeframe? What is the process for storage, retrieval, distribution, and deletion of your session?
  • Interpretation: Is there an option to offer simultaneous interpretation? How does it work? Can it run multiple livestreams simultaneously?
  • Technical support: What technical support can you access before and/or during the session?  Is there someone within your organization who can help if you run into issues?

Action Items

  • Find out if your organization has an IT Department, Telehealth, or Telemedicine program and if so, ask:
    • which virtual platforms are available and supported
    • what support they can offer you before and during your virtual group education session
    • what resources they can offer your participants to help them use and navigate the platform
  • Identify your preferred platform based on privacy, accessibility, ease of use, access, cost and other features.