Starting Tuesday, virtual care company Maple will provide online COVID-19 (coronavirus) screenings with a live physician to Ontario residents. Maple is also currently offering its virtual clinic software to all Ontario and British Columbia (BC) physicians free of charge amid the outbreak.
“Connecting concerned patients… with licenced Canadian doctors from the safety of their homes is simply the right thing to do.”
The company’s online COVID-19 screening program will be covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). The screening will allow people in Ontario with a valid OHIP card to talk to a physician through audio or video chat about their symptoms and receive advice on whether they need testing or emergency care. The service is aimed to relieve the pressure on overloaded emergency rooms and allow patients to receive screening safely.
“Connecting concerned patients, who are receiving conflicting information from every angle, with licenced Canadian doctors from the safety of their homes is simply the right thing to do,” said Dr. Brett Belchetz, CEO and co-founder of Maple. “We’re already seeing a strong increase in the need for virtual health services across the country.”
Maple’s virtual clinic platform, which is currently being offered to all Ontario and BC doctors free of charge, will allow physicians in those provinces to launch virtual care capabilities from their home, office, or clinic.
After each screening, patients will be able to send their results to their family physician or a local screening centre. Covered online medical visits are also available in BC for people with a valid BC Services Card.
Ontario and BC are currently the only provinces that allow doctors to see patients virtually under provincial health plans. BC allows physicians to charge for healthcare consultations via video, and last week, the Ontario government activated temporary billing codes to allow for telephone and video screening visits during the outbreak.
Belchetz said he hopes other provincial governments will also open billing codes to allow video or telephone programs to expand across the country. “It’s the best way to ensure safe access to healthcare in this time of self-isolation and social distancing,” he said.
Maple is one of many organizations taking steps to help curb the spread of COVID-19, which was declared to be a pandemic by the World Health Organization last week. Montreal-based Dialogue recently launched a free tool to give Canadian access to the latest public health information and resources pertaining to the COVID-19.
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