14 Virtual Care Services in Canada You Need to Know About
Not feeling well? Have a health concern? Need a prescription filled? These Canadian virtual health care services can help you while you're social distancing.
Canada’s Telehealth Services
There are many telehealth services available that can provide help to Canadians with non-emergency concerns. This can include anything from body aches to mental health stressors. This year in particular, with the pandemic’s negative impact on Canadians’ mental health and the incoming winter months bringing SAD (seasonal affective disorder) with it, accessible and timely mental healthcare will be all the more important.
Luckily, there is a range of doctors, mental health professionals, and wellness experts on the other side of your tech to answer your questions, help you feel better, and give you a prescription when needed. Available through websites or through apps on your phone, telehealth can be super convenient, effective, and affordable. In fact, some patients say they’re more comfortable talking to a healthcare professional at home than in a doctor’s office.
Of course, not everyone is a good candidate for telehealth. Dr. Howard Ovens, Chief Medical Strategy Officer, Sinai Health System and staff emergency physician at Mount Sinai Hospital, reminds Canadians that if they have an emergency, the best way to receive treatment is by visiting the emergency room. “Some people are really sick, either related to COVID or all the other things we always see in the emergency department (appendicitis, broken bones, heart attacks), and they need attention,” he says. “We want them to feel safe and come in to get assessed.”
Below, a list of telehealth services available in Canada.
Provincial Telehealth Services
There are a variety of free and confidential telehealth services run by the public health authorities in each province and territory. Though services differ slightly from province to province, generally these government-run programs link users with healthcare professionals (such as public health nurses) through the phone. Once on the phone, users can ask for medical advice on a range of non-emergency topics such as whether or not to handle the situation at home or if the issue requires a visit to the doctor’s office. Many of these provincial services also have COVID-19 self-assessments which can help determine next steps if you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
Inkblot is an online mental health and wellness platform that offers video counselling sessions. Through talk therapy, hundreds of licensed counsellors and life coaches are available to help you navigate through mental health concerns including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, grief and addiction. Your first session is free of charge, and after that, half-hour sessions cost $37.50.
Hasu is a Canadian eCounselling service that allows users to access a therapist via video call, phone call, or text message at any time. Hasu also hosts unlimited Text Therapy for $29 a week, so that users can have 24/7 access to their therapist and receive daily feedback and support. Hour-long phone or video call sessions cost $95 each.
This mental health app is available across Canada in both French and English and is suitable for those with mild to moderate symptoms of depression, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, panic, PTSD, and insomnia. BEACON works by first assessing users through a comprehensive questionnaire and then assigning cognitive behaviour therapy-based programs that match the user’s needs. Beacon also facilitates secure messaging with a registered therapist. The service is free for Ontario residents and is covered by employers across the country. Otherwise, rates start at $635.
Tia Health allows patients to connect with Canadian doctors via phone, video or messaging. You can choose your own doctor, and even one who speaks the language you’re most comfortable with. Aside from prescriptions, referrals, requisitions, and mental health services, they are also offering COVID-19 screening. Tia Health is covered in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia (fees start at $30 for other provinces.)
Ontario Telemedicine Network
The Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) is a not-for-profit organization funded by the Government of Ontario. During your eVisit, you can speak to a healthcare provider via video using a computer, smartphone or tablet. OTN has a plethora of other services including retinal screening for diabetics, virtual palliative care program, Indigenous services, and virtual mental health coaching. Visit their website for more info.
Like the name suggests, Virtual Clinics offer virtual appointments in which patients can connect to a doctor via phone, video or messaging. Their services include lab test results on demand as well as prescription and renewals delivered to your doorstep. Virtual Clinics is free for British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario residents and starts at $30 for Canadians in other provinces. To book your virtual appointment, visit their website.
Livecare is the only telehealth company owned and operated by physicians. They offer virtual visits with a medical provider with various specialties such as mental health, cardiology, endocrinology, pain management, sleep disorders and many more. Through video, you can discuss prescription refills, lab and test results, follow-up care and general questions. Livecare also has online journals, health trackers and calendars to help you manage your health. You can give them a call at 1-855-599-8817 from 9 to 5 p.m. PST on weekdays.
With Maple, you can talk to a doctor in less than two minutes using your smartphone, tablet or computer 24/7. Doctors can help with various medical issues such as cough/cold/flu, urinary tract infections, sexual health, mental health, general prescription renewals, and more. Maple also offers online dermatology, pediatrics, oncology, naturopathy and other specialties. Pricing starts at $49 per visit on the weekdays and $79 per visit on weekends and holidays. To get started, visit their website or download the Maple app.
Felix offers a way for Canadians to get their lifestyle medications including birth control, acne and hair loss medications. First, you complete your online visit ($40 fee) by answering questions about your medical history. Then, based on your consultation, you can get a prescription within 24 hours. The medication is then shipped to your door at no extra cost.
Tulip is an Ontario-based phone service that links users with Ontario MDs. Doctors on Tulip provide a range of services from cold and flu assessments, prescription renewals, referrals to specialists, and COVID-19 assessments. The services on Tulip are free for Ontario residents with a valid OHIP card.
Babylon by TELUS health is a mobile app that services Canadians living in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. The app allows users to access virtual consultations with physicians for prescriptions (which can be sent to your pharmacy of choice), assessments, and referrals for diagnostic tests at an in-person lab or clinic. Babylon also has a built-in symptom checker that asks the users questions and provides relevant health and triage information, a health check that allows users to get a broader sense of their current health, and a monitor to track health indicators like mood and energy levels. Patients covered under provincial healthcare plans can access the services on the app for free and each consultation is $65 without insurance.
Powered by Telehealth Ontario, Cover Health gives users access to a same-day appointment with an Ontario doctor. Doctors on Cover are able to provide the same services as any in-person walk-in clinic like cold and flu symptoms, sick notes, medication renewals, reproductive health, prescriptions, and more. All appointments are covered for Ontario residents, even without OHIP.
GOeVisit is a free app that allows users to describe their symptoms and receive a diagnosis and treatment plan from a Canadian medical practitioner—all from your smartphone. The app works best for minor illnesses like coughs, cold and flu symptoms, and minor injuries. Prices start at $10 per month for individuals and $15 per month for families.