The pandemic has helped to drive more traffic to virtual options for everything from prescription refills to therapy
By Dina Al-Shibeeb
Teleheathcare in Canada dates back to 2006, however, not many Canadians are aware of the services available to them.
One reason for our lack of knowledge could be that only four per cent of physicians offered virtual video visits to their patients in 2019.
More telehealth services started emerging in Canada a few years prior to the pandemic, but the pandemic led to their accelerated growth.
While some of the options are privatized, leading to additional costs, the price may be worth it if you are looking to save on time and gas. Private options may also be worth looking into if your work doesn’t provide health coverage, especially if you are a gig or contract worker.
Here are 12 major telehealth providers in Canada that can provide support for physical and mental health.
Background: Founded in 2006, the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) is one of the largest telemedicine networks in the world.
Services: Aside from specialist advice, OTN offers retinal screening for diabetes and a palliative care program.
OTN also offers self-managed virtual care, such as mental health coaching and support for gambling addiction.
Costs: OTN is a not-for-profit organization funded by the Government of Ontario.
Background: Tia Health was founded in 2018.
Services: In addition to regular e-visits, Tia has specialists in fields such as dermatology, pediatrics, psychiatry, physiotherapy and medical cannabis authorization.
Tia has also partnered with multiple pharmacies to allow patients to get a prescription from a pharmacy near their home.
Costs: Tia Health is free in Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Alberta, with a valid health card. However, fees start at $30 elsewhere in Canada.
Background: Launched in 2016 by an emergency doctor who diagnoses his friends via text.
Services: Maple, which also has an app, has an expensive list of specialists.
Patients can get support from experts in fields such as dermatology, mole mapping, COVID-19 testing, psychotherapy and allergy and immunology.
Costs: Pricing starts at $49 per visit on the weekdays and $79 per visit on weekends and holidays.
There is also the option of a $30 monthly payment, which can secure 30 visits a year with a general practitioner.
Background: Launched in March 2020 by WELL Health Technologies Corp. WELL has also acquired INSIG Corp., a leading virtual care platform in Canada, which owns and operates the Tia Health group of virtual clinics.
That means WELL owns both Tia and VritualClinics+.
Services: As you can guess from its name, VirtualClinics+ provides online walk-in clinic services.
Costs: It’s free for residents of British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario with a valid health card. However, costs for residents outside these three provinces begin at $30.
TELUS Health MyCare
Background: TELUS Health MyCare, a mobile app, started in 2019.
Services: TELUS was created to serve Canadians who don’t have a family doctor or those who seek medical care after hours.
Patients can also book appointments with a mental health counsellor and dieticians.
Costs: Virtual consultations with physicians are available for all residents of British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan, in addition to employees covered under TELUS Health MyCare Business.
Alternatively, patients without provincial health insurance in these provinces can access virtual consultations for $70 each.
Background: Founded in 2016, the GOeVist app allows patients to describe their symptoms using their phone, tablet or computer.
Patients can also receive a diagnosis and treatment from a Canadian medical practitioner.
Services: GOeVisit can diagnose, treat and prescribe treatment for more than 450 minor illnesses such as the cold.
The platform can also provide support for minor injuries and pediatric care.
In June 2021, GoeVisit – owned by MyCare MedTech Inc. – added mental health services to its medical consultation platform.
Costs: For Canadian residents it’s $10 a month or $99 annually for unlimited visits. For families, it’s $15 a month or $149 annually.
People can also pay as they go, for $49.50 a visit. The rate of $49.50 a visit also applies for those who aren’t Canadian citizens.
Background: Founded in 2019, Felix offers online doctor access and prescription delivery through its end-to-end telehealth treatment service.
Felix also launched mental health services in 2021.
Services: Felix offers services for sexual health, daily health and mental health.
Sexual health care ranges from offering birth control, to treatment of issues such as cold sores and sexually transmitted infections.
Daily health includes treatment for acne, allergies, hair loss and migraines.
The newly added mental health service deals with anxiety and depression.
Patients can also get prescriptions with up to one year of refills.
Costs: The online visit fee is $40.
Background: Founded in 2019, Cover Health is a virtual walk-in clinic.
Services: Patients register and enter a digital queue to speak with a doctor.
The virtual clinic is open seven days a week and has specialists in fertility, physiotherapy, dermatology, and diabetes.
Costs: It’s free in Ontario. Also, non-OHIP cardholders can also receive free care as long as they live in Ontario.
Focus Mental Wellness
Background: HASU eCounselling Support was created in 2016, only to be rebranded to Focus Mental Wellness.
Services: Focusmw.com allows patients to select a therapist for virtual consultations and pay online.
Costs: Video and phone sessions start at $95 an hour. Text therapy is $29 a week.
Background: MindBeacon was launched in 2017.
In 2021, MindBeacon relaunched to offer people more comprehensive digital mental health and customizable support.
Services: MindBeacon allows patients to work one-on-one with their therapist for up to 12 weeks, and access resources for up to one year.
MindBeacon’s Therapist Guided Program is rooted in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
CBT is recommended for social anxiety, stress management, depression, insomnia, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Costs: It’s free for Ontario residents due to government funding. Individual plans can be purchased through providers such as SureHealth or CoverMe.
Background: Launched in 2018, Inkblot Therapy aims to remedy the six to nine-month wait times that many mental health patients endure to see a specialist.
Services: Inkblot offers therapy for issues such as depression, anxiety, grief, stress, substance abuse disorder, postpartum depression and anxiety, eating disorders, post traumatic stress disorder and ADHD.
Costs: The first session is free. Subsequent half-hour sessions cost $37.50.
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