A year ago, no one gave too much thought to virtual care and telemedicine.
Yet those are the two core functions of industry leader, MD Connected. And in 2021, all can agree, their services couldn’t be more needed.
Their telemedicine clinics are actual bricks-and-mortar locations, though there aren’t any doctors on site. What you’ll find instead are nurses that triage patients and connect them to doctors remotely in a virtually assisted visit. There are currently over 30 Ontario health clinics.
“It provides a better experience for the patient, because there’s somebody who’s trained to take your vitals, review your history, conduct a proper assessment, and communicate all of that to the doctor,” says CEO, Venky Weylagro.
Their second model, virtual care, has patients connecting with a doctor from the comfort of their home. You self-triage in a sense, filling out a short questionnaire on your own and the doctor makes an assessment based on the information provided. Doctors can still do many of the same things they can do in a clinic, such as referring you to a specialist, sending you to get lab work done and writing prescriptions and doctor’s notes.
Their clinics are also providing COVID testing, at a few, limited sites. This is done through a partnership with a private group that facilitates the actual testing; it’s a paid service and not done through public health. It was implemented specifically for patients needing testing that do not meet the requirements for public health. All of the other services they provide are done through OHIP and public health.
The company was launched in 2017 with a focus to service rural communities, those who don’t have as much access to a doctor as people who live in larger, more urban centres. These are the company’s roots, though their care has evolved since then.
“Virtual care is now the norm no matter where you are,” says Weylagro. “COVID has helped improved things in terms of creating greater access and acceptance. Not just for patients but medical practitioners as well. More and more doctors are now inclined to do virtual care, whereas before the pandemic many of them just wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing it.”
The company has really widened the scope of its services and now offers travel health as well as access to numerous specialists and speciality services. The goal, as always, is to increase access to healthcare for as many people as possible, no matter where they live.
“Someone who lives in Timmins, Ontario may not have the same access to specialists as you would in, say, Toronto,” says Weylagro. “We’re trying to help close that gap through the services we offer.”
Helping remote, underserved communities was the company’s original mandate. Their first-ever location was in Amherstburg, Ontario, where the community had very limited resources, with just one family doctor. The physician had been wanting to retire for years, but continued seeing patients because he felt compelled to—there were no other doctors around to help out. He passed away while still having an active patient roster.
“These are the kinds of stories you deal with in rural communities and they’re things that we take for granted. Outside of the Greater Toronto Area, it’s a big problem,” explains Weylagro.
While smaller communities were definitely the focus when the company started out, they quickly built a great reputation in the healthcare community. Soon some major partners—including Rexall, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Metro—reached out, wanting to work with them, to expand and partner. They began establishing clinics in more metropolitan settings.
“It was a little bit different from what our core focus was but ultimately it was still very successful,” the CEO explains. “That’s just kind of how it’s evolved.”
Where the business started out as a telemedicine walk-in clinic, it is now a virtual health care centre. They have expanded their services so broadly in fact that there are now a number of specialists on their team and in their network: pediatricians, dermatologists, internal medicine specialists, allergists and urologists, to name just a few. They even offer addiction services at select locations through one of their partners, Maple Addiction Recovery Centres.
The company did not come about because of COVID. Says Weylagro, “We’ve been doing this for four years and we bring a wealth of experience to virtual care. I think other people are just catching up, quite frankly. For us, this has always been our business. We’ve done hundreds of thousands of virtual visits to date, and are growing rapidly because of our commitment to the patient experience. ”
For more information or to book a consultation, visit MD Connected or call 1-877-406-9362.