Just a thought… Technology is anything that wasn’t around when you were born. [Alan Kay]
Every now and then, when we’re on FaceTime with Colin several provinces away chatting with him, or when I only take my phone shopping because I have my Visa card in it and need only tap it to pay, I marvel at the technology in this age in which we live.
This week, I came to embrace new technology even more and I’ll fill you in on an Ontario angle for it in a moment. First, here’s what’s up.
I take these enzymes called tryptophan. You’ve heard of them because they’re in turkey, warm milk and bananas and have been known to kind of just chill your nerves. Not sure why they need an RX, but I have used them to help me sleep and to aid me in dealing with stressful situations. They’re like meditation in a capsule. That reminds me: get back to meditation.
Anyway, on Monday, I realized we have a trip to the US coming and I’m very low on tryptophan. (Not that the destination and the RX are related, but you never know!) I went online to my local Shoppers and, sure enough, just as the label said, I was out of refills. Reluctant to book precious time with a doctor so slammed (as they all are) that he’s no longer taking patients, I remembered being told by my new island pal Nancy about Skype- or Facetime-style doctors’ appointments.
She uses Medeo; having forgotten its name, I Googled and found Viva Care Medical Health. Here’s how it works: provided you aren’t looking for special care like disability leave extension or prescriptions for narcotics or controlled substances, want to consult them for travel-related concerns or get lab requisitions for certain issues, you can book an appointment to talk with a real honest-to-goodness doctor.
All I wanted was a re-up on my lapsed prescription, so I filled out an easy application (including my BC Health card, pharmacist’s fax number, previous prescription and dosage, etc.) and made an appointment time – for TEN MINUTES FROM THEN!
I could hardly believe this was real. I put on some lipstick, sat by my phone, expecting a call. I got a reminder text a few minutes out. And then waited. And waited.
About fifteen minutes past my appointment time with a Dr. Wu, I checked my emails and D’OH! I’d missed a response saying I needed to download an app and join an e-meeting site. That’s okay – I knew how to do that – and with Rob’s help I got into the virtual waiting room. No cheesy music piped in, no old germy magazines. Just my own!
A few minutes later, a very cheery (human) receptionist told us that the doctor had just finished up with a mom and her two babies, and would be getting to us soon. Some online poking around showed me that Viva Care has actual real offices and clinics, so yes, they’re juggling online patients with in-person visits. (Made me even sorrier that I’d stood up Dr. Wu because of my oversight).
The receptionist, if you will, was wonderful and told me to go about my day but leave my video camera on – I guess, a reminder that if part of my day included inappropriate scratching or working on my pole dancing abilities, I might have to be aware there’s a camera. She promised I’d see and hear the doctor when he or she was ready. (It turned out to be a “he” as I guess he took whoever was next in the virtual waiting room).
We said our hellos, he asked what I wanted (although he was reading from a file on his screen that told him), checked the dosage and after a forty-five second chat, I had my refill. They faxed the prescription to my local pharmacy. Just like that. FOR FREE. (Of course, the actual pills aren’t free, just the whole seeing a doctor thing.)
They provide this service to BC residents no matter where in the world they may be. I’m a fan and am looking forward to getting further re-ups on prescriptions.
Now, I know that doctors’ appointments are important and I have every intention of keep up with visits and exams with my doctor in Victoria. But why should I take up his time when there could be someone who’s actually sick, who needs an appointment and then can’t get in ’cause I’m in the examination room having a nice chat? I think that, at least in our situation, this was absolutely perfect.
Knowing that many journal visitors are in Ontario, I reached out to my pal Lisa Brandt and asked if she knew of such a service there (Lisa’s in London). She said they just did an interview on her station with GOeVisit and sent me a link; you can learn more at goevisit.com. It costs about $4.25 a month to subscribe plus each visit is $25. (It’s also available to visitors to Canada but that’s at $49.95 per visit). That made me appreciate Viva Care even more!
I’ll reiterate here the importance of seeing a doctor in person, which I’m sure Viva Care would do, too, for regular hands-on (literally) examinations. A doctor you have known for years can look you in the eye and ask if everything is okay, and that’s an exchange that can be worth its weight in gold.
But consider this: Viva Care, and others here like it, offer counselling appointments for depression, addiction and other issues that a prospective patient might find difficult to discuss with a doctor in a non-video way. And today they sent a list of services available via video ($95 hourly sessions) with psychotherapists. Counselling from the comfort and privacy of my own home, in my jammies? Sign me up!
I’m just stunned at how well this worked for us and what an incredible tool this is going to be going forward, especially when we’re away for longer stretches and we inadvertently mess up on prescriptions and refills. Best of all, I hope I’ve done my part to help ease the congestion in our overworked health care system by freeing up a doctor to do real medicine instead of rubber stamping a prescription.
I’ll be back here tomorrow with some news about Lisa that I think you’re going to want to know and share, especially if you’ve ever asked, “How do I get some publicity for this?” Take care.