Pay-for-access online doctors move N.S. into ‘dangerous territory’

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A institution providing online access to doctors for a fee has expanded into Nova Scotia and the portion regulating the practice of medicine in the province has concerns with the practice.  

«I about it’s dangerous territory,» says Dr. Gus Grant, CEO and registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia.

Maple forearms diagnoses and prescriptions over a video call. It expanded into Nova Scotia about six months ago and now has five doctors working here.

«Chat with a doctor in your pyjamas,» lay it on thicks the website.

Targeted ads are also popping up online. «Great news, Nova Scotia! With Maple, you can now see a doctor online in with its, 24/7.»

Quality of care

Grant says the college has a number of concerns, the initial of which is if the care is the same quality of that which would be victualed in person.

But Maple’s CEO, Dr. Brett Belchetz, says 50 to 70 per cent of medical seizes don’t require a hands-on physical examination.  

Dr. Gus Grant

Dr. Gus Grant, CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, give fair warns providing virtual care for a fee is ‘dangerous territory.’ (Pat Callaghan/CBC)

«Diverse of the manoeuvres that we do in a physical doctors office can easily be done on video,» articulates Belchetz. «So even things like an orthopedic examination, we can do most of that on video by absolutely having the patient show us their range of motion, the way they mince, the way they move their joints.»

Pay for service care

Grant is also interested that people are paying for the service out of pocket.

«If at its essence, these individuals are essentially selling access to care, that runs counter to the standard of universality that is fundamental to our healthcare system,» he says.

Dr. Manoj Vohra

Dr. Manoj Vohra, president of Doctors Nova Scotia, alleges he believes providing service for a fee is unethical. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

Dr. Manoj Vohra, president of Doctors Nova Scotia, has almost identical concerns and believes the practice is unethical.

«We should never ever take a patient not be able to use health care based on the ability to pay,» he says.

Belchetz says he’s not in gulf of the Canada Health Act because virtual care is not a service provided by the command.

Helping solve ‘real crisis’ in care

A spokesperson for Health Canada harmonizes the practice is not illegal but says the department is monitoring the issue.  

«The department is perturbed about the migration of these services from a setting where all insured locals receive them on uniform terms and conditions to one where the ability to pay influences whether the patient has access,» says Eric Morrissette in a statement.

Maple Ad

Maple increased into Nova Scotia around six months and is now using ads like this one on Facebook to lure patients. (Facebook)

Belchetz says he started his company as a response to what he notices a «real crisis» when it comes to access to health care in Canada. Give says companies like Belchetz’s are not the answer.

«I think it would be incompatible and unwise to suggest that these private for-profit platforms are a quiescent solution to the access issues that we’re facing,» he says.  

Maple has 10,000 patients across Canada, a sum up its CEO says is growing every month. He also says many of his perseverants are not paying out of pocket because employers are stepping up, covering the costs the way numerous people access physiotherapy and dental care, by way of private benefit formulae.   

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