CAMBRIDGE -- Virtual visits with a doctor are gaining popularity amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A team out of Hamilton has been testing out a new way to perform routine post-surgery appointments with the help of technology. That allows patients to get home faster, and decreases their time spent in the hospital.

Robb Bendus of Cambridge is the first to admit that he's not good with technology. But after his second open-heart surgery in May, he was happy to have it on his side.

"It was great, it gave you confidence that you're going to be able to talk to somebody instantly if necessary," he said.

The Connected Health Kit allows patients like Bendus to check their vital signs multiple times a day. Every time they do so, their nurse can see their results in real time, even without a video call.

"The nurses call patients daily, they review patient vital signs and they monitor the dashboard," said nursing project Officer Carley Ouellette.

The technology is designed by Cloud DX, a Kitchener-based medi-tech company. The Connected Health Kit, which includes several pieces, has to be prescribed by a doctor.

CEO Robert Kaul said that digital privacy is the company's top concern.

"Zoom has a more private health-care compliant version of Zoom," he said. "Technically it meets the HIPAA compliant standard, which is actually an American law about patient privacy."

Bendus is one of 900 patients across the country with the kit. That's because Hamilton Health Services and McMaster University have teamed up to study the effectiveness of post-surgery virtual care.

The study is called Post-Discharge After Virtual Care with Remote Automated Monitoring Technology, or PVC-RAM for short.

"It's obvious that this is the future, but I think where we still need more work is to figure out, how do we make it the most efficient and effective," said co-principal investigator Dr. PJ Devereaux.

He said about 25 per cent of people who go home after major surgeries will end up back in the emergency room within 30 days.

Bendus was one of those people after his first surgery, but after his more recent valve replacement, he never had to leave the house.

"Adjusting meds for example, they would adjust them and phone my pharmacy and have it delivered," he said.