New online tool will enable COVID-19 screening from the safety of home

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A Canadian virtual medicine firm announced that they will be launching a free online screening program that will connect patients in Ontario with a live physician.

Maple, a leading virtual care platform in the country, announced Monday (March 16) that they will provide OHIP covered online coronavirus (COVID-19) screenings starting Tuesday.

This virtual clinic software will be made available for free to doctors in Ontario and B.C., the company said in a press release.

The company’s online COVID-19 screening program, which will be available at getmaple.ca, enables people in Ontario with a valid OHIP card to talk to a doctor through audio or video chat about their symptoms and receive guidance on whether they need testing or emergency care.

The service is expected to alleviate pressure on overburdened emergency rooms and allow patients to safely receive screening from the comfort of their homes.

After each screening visit, patients will be able to fax a summary of their results to their family physician or a local screening centre for next steps.

Connecting concerned patients, who are receiving conflicting information from every angle, with licensed Canadian doctors from the safety of their homes is simply the right thing to do,” said Dr. Brett Belchetz, CEO and Co-Founder of Maple and a practising ER physician in the release.

"We’re already seeing a strong increase in the need for virtual health services across the country."

Doctors will be able to see their current patients online for concerns like chronic condition management, infections, minor injuries and much more, rather than having patients needlessly travel to the doctor’s office where they might be exposed to a risk of infection, the release says.

It will also help to reduce the capacity strain caused by COVID-19 screenings, which can be done swiftly via the virtual platform.

"It’s the best way to ensure safe access to healthcare in this time of self-isolation and social distancing,” Belchetz said.

During the outbreak, the Maple platform will continue to operate 24/7 as normal across Canada, including in Ontario and BC, offering online medical visits via instant message, video, and phone.

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