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How To Balance Safe Effective Healthcare and Efficient Delivery

Is the new ‘Uber’ for doctors platform the solution to medical wait times we have been, ahem, waiting for?

The Canadian medical system has struggled for years to balance the delivery of healthcare on the one hand, with administrative and systemic efficiencies on the other. While each province does have certain unique challenges, many difficulties inherent in our healthcare system exist across the country.

Recent media coverage on ‘single issue appointments’ demonstrates the need for some reform. Many doctors struggle to run their practices for real financial reasons, while OHIP limits doctors’ income by forcing a single issue payment system (and in many other ways), i.e. a doctor will only get paid for a single issue during a single patient visit, no matter how many issues the patient has and how long the appointment may take. This system compels patients to book multiple appointments at which to discuss their issues, causing further patient backlog.

Enter technological solutions that claim to bring doctor and patient together quickly, efficiently, and safely. Is this the evolution of telemedicine we need or want?

Companies such as Felix Health Inc. claim to offer asynchronous healthcare services where a patient and doctor need not meet in person, instead using a technological solution that works no matter where the patient or doctor may be physically located.

Challenges exist. Are our healthcare laws and payment systems incapable of supporting such innovative direct-to-consumer approaches to healthcare? Law makers should study and embrace creative technological solutions, while ensuring minimal risks to the public.

Uber shook up urban transportation. Law makers either fought or embraced the new technology. Our healthcare system may be more complex, but a similar choice awaits law makers. What will they do?