As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep health-care workers busy, a Calgary physician has created a new online service that Albertans can use to access medical help remotely.
PurposeMed is a telemedicine service — created by Dr. Husein Moloo — that connects patients with physicians across the province.
It is available to all Alberta physicians — including family doctors who wish to use the platform — for free.
The service acts as an additional resource to the Health Link system, which Moloo said has been overwhelmed with calls during the pandemic.
“As we’re encouraging social distancing, the need for virtual care is going to increase,” Moloo said in an interview with 770 CHQR.
“We’re hoping the platform will serve as a way for physicians to come together across the province to help slow the spread of COVID-19.”
PurposeMed was originally designed to launch in the summer and help connect Albertans with healthcare no matter their location or social status.
However, Moloo said the service was released early to help accommodate the increased need for health-care resources amid the pandemic.
LISTEN: PuposeMed provides Albertans with remote access to healthcare amid COVID-19 pandemic
“Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen the need for the medical community to come together to help support Alberta Health Services beyond our day-to-day work,” Moloo said.
“We’re enabling and empowering physicians in Alberta to have their own virtual care waiting room so they can see their own patients,” Moloo said.
Moloo added that the service is free for both patients and doctors thanks to Alberta Health Service’s decision to reimburse doctors for telemedicine consults with patients amid the pandemic.
As of April 10, Moloo said 20 physicians have signed up to be a part of the service and can now provide specific health care to residents through audio and video calls.
Dr. Luba Kazatchenko, from La Vita Medical Centre in Airdrie, is one of the doctors now using the service. She said so far, the platform has offered an effective way to connect with patients.
“It has been very easy to use. The options of assessing a patient not only over audio, but also by seeing them through video, makes a big difference in supporting them and providing diagnosis,” Kazatchenko said.
“The platform has been designed to ensure it’s quite intuitive and so far my patients have been appreciate of having the remote option to connect with health-care support.”
Kazatchenko said she’s already servicing residents outside the area and believes this form of patient care will evolve past the pandemic.
“I have consulted with patients on PurposeMed from the Grande Prairie area and other small towns from Northern Alberta where people have to drive long distances to see a doctor,” she said.
“This option is extremely helpful for rural communities.
“I think this type of virtual care will have still have a place after the pandemic is over, especially in rural Alberta.”
While there are limitations to how much a doctor can do remotely for a patient, Moloo said the online platform creates a timely response for Albertans to access necessary health care and resources.
“There are limitations to all virtual care. There’s no physical exam involved and that is a limitation for us,” he said.
“But we hope the platform will be helpful to all Albertans, and especially high-risk individuals and residents in rural areas.
“With the COVID-19 situation changing so quickly, we hope that being able to reach out to a doctor will help put people at ease and get treatment for affected people more quickly.”
PurposeMed has facilitated virtual appointments for more than 500 patients online in the past two weeks.
The platform will be expanding and launching in Manitoba on April 20 due to a high demand from physicians there looking for a tool to provide remote care to patients.