Residents of Portage la Prairie and the surrounding area will likely have heard of, or even experienced first hand, various challenges to healthcare access.
Enter QDoc – a free service that digitally connects patients with physicians in the Southern Health region and throughout Manitoba. Via video check-ups from any device, patients can receive the quality, attentive care they’d expect from in-person appointments without the hassle of the waiting room.
“Visits are completed within an hour to an hour-and-a-half,” explains Dr. Norman Silver, a practicing pediatrician and QDoc co-founder, though he adds some wait times can sometimes be longer. “But if you do have to wait a bit longer because of volume,” he explains, “at least you’re waiting in the comfort of your home – which is pretty cool, especially if you live in a rural area, which is where a lot of our patients are located.”
To date, more than three-quarters of QDoc users have signed in from outside Winnipeg, with about 30% hailing from Southern Health, specifically.
“The region has had some difficulty with the number of physicians available, which means existing doctors are working super hard and not seeing people as quickly as they likely want to,” Silver explains.
While obviously not intended for emergency situations such as chest pains, broken bones or major cuts and lacerations, QDoc, which operates within the public healthcare system, can perform basic check-ups, provide sick notes and prescriptions, and order X-rays, physio and lab work. Patients can also receive help for common ailments such as sore throats, sore ears, rash, coughs (including croup), among others.
“Think of it of it as a very large, province-wide virtual clinic,” says Silver. “And you don’t pay as long as you have a provincial health card.”
So far, the service has engaged approximately 28,000 patients and is averaging around 4,500 virtual visits per month. Additionally, they’ve established partnerships with the medical director of Peguis First Nation and Winnipeg’s Downtown Community Safety network, and they’re hoping to integrate with hospitals going forward in order to help at time of triage.
Naturally, user experience is central to QDoc, and programmers have done their best to ensure the web app works smoothly on any device, from iPads to laptops, tablets and laptops. Silver also points out that patients are able to upload pictures they feel might help their virtual doctor during their visit.
He does, however, recommend that patients who have existing relationships with a primary healthcare providers should go to them as a first step.
“I think it’s always about continuity. It’s really important to have someone who knows you well,” he says. “The unfortunate thing is a lot of people don’t have that, and I know Southern Health is relatively bad for this.”
Patients who do access QDoc, says Silver, will receive incredible compassion and quality care from their physicians.
“It’s been eye-opening how much they care,” he says. “I know it’s hard for the public to realize that so many doctors are overworked, but we have so many amazing physicians in Manitoba. And QDoc is just aiming to fill in some gaps and make sure all Manitobans can get help when they need it.”
Patients in and around Portage and throughout rural and urban Manitoba can connect with QDoc by visiting QDoc.ca. Sign-up is free, as are the visits.
A doctor in queue is waiting for you!