Protecting the public interest when regulating health professionals providing virtual care: a scoping review protocol

Kathleen Leslie, Sophia Myles, Tracey L. Adams, Catharine Schiller, Jacob Shelley, Sioban Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review


Background: Virtual care is transforming the nature of healthcare, particularly with the accelerated shift to telehealth and virtual care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health profession regulators face intense pressures to safely facilitate this type of healthcare while upholding their legislative mandate to protect the public. Challenges for health profession regulators have included providing practice guidance for virtual care, changing entry-to-practice requirements to include digital competencies, facilitating interjurisdictional virtual care through licensure and liability insurance requirements, and adapting disciplinary procedures. This scoping review will examine the literature on how the public interest is protected when regulating health professionals providing virtual care. Methods: This review will follow the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) scoping review methodology. Academic and grey literature will be retrieved from health sciences, social sciences, and legal databases using a comprehensive search strategy underpinned by Population-Concept-Context (PCC) inclusion criteria. Articles published in English since January 2015 will be considered for inclusion. Two reviewers will independently screen titles and abstracts and full-text sources against specific inclusion and exclusion criteria. Discrepancies will be resolved through discussion or by a third reviewer. One research team member will extract relevant data from the selected documents and a second will validate the extractions. Discussion: Results will be presented in a descriptive synthesis that highlights implications for regulatory policy and professional practice, as well as study limitations and knowledge gaps that warrant further research. Given the rapid expansion of virtual care provision by regulated health professionals in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, mapping the literature on how the public interest is protected in this rapidly evolving digital health sector may help inform future regulatory reform and innovation. Systematic review registration: This protocol is registered with the Open Science Framework (

Original languageEnglish
Article number31
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec. 2023


  • Licensure
  • Patient safety
  • Professional regulation
  • Public interest
  • Telehealth
  • Telemedicine
  • Virtual care


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