As of December 1, in Nova Scotia over 42,000 people were on the list for a family doctor. Virtual medical services that use various practitioners from Medical Doctor to Nurse Practitioner are on the rise in Canada and being adopted as part of many insurance carrier programs across the country. The service being offered allows patients to connect with a medical practitioner through modern mediums such as Facetime, and Skype.
Basically, telemedicine services have risen to cover a critical gap in basic care in many Canadian provinces. Many people are forced to seek care at walk in clinics or emergency rooms with minor ailments and prescription refills. Could telemedicine help alleviate the load on the public system?
Reactions are mixed to telemedicine. Some fundamental questions come up surrounding the model of care:
- this model is getting away from universal health care (most models are pay for service)
- this also gets away from the universality principle that access to medical care should be based on need not ability to afford it
- access to medical records is a concern, so if a person has no continuity in care as in a relationship with the practitioner, are they really getting the best diagnosis or care plan?
- Checks & Balances – is the system ready for this care model?
- Limited services can be provided. Without physically being examined, how many ailments can really be addressed through this model?
Although still in its infancy, telemedicine seems to have its place despite the above concerns. There are many positives with this service - convenience, peace of mind, and somewhere to turn to when the public system is overloaded. You can fill a prescription from the comfort of your phone or at your desk at work, and discuss a health concern with a professional in minutes.
Not all telemedicine providers are private (fee for service) and there are some that bill the provincial systems. As an employer you could add telemedicine to your group benefits package as a value added benefit that helps differentiate you as an ‘employer of choice’.
If you would like to learn more about the providers in the marketplace please reach out to your Belmont Employee Benefits Consultant.