An online service created by a B.C. resident can help Greater Victoria residents find a family doctor – for a fee.
FindaDoctorbc.ca helps patients find physicians who are accepting new patients. The website monitors about 257 family clinics representing 1,500 doctors – with more clinics added regularly.
Electrical engineer Don Gayton created and launched the website about nine months ago. Gayton moved from North Vancouver to Nanaimo, where he and his family struggled to find a physician.
Now, both of Gayton’s daughters live in Victoria, and neither is able to find a doctor.
“It left the impression that it’s so hard to find a family physician here, especially for newcomers,” he said. “So I started thinking, there must be a better way.”
Gayton created the website as a side project, filling a much-needed void for cohesive clinic listings.
“The lists out there are almost worse than useless. The information is all in different formats,” Gayton said. His website works through crowd-sourced user feedback, providing updates on clinics accepting and not-accepting patients.
Residents can use the map feature to see locations where doctors are accepting new patients – or they can sign up for the priority notification service, which sends an email alert as soon as a doctor or practitioner begins accepting new patients. That services costs $3.99 per month. A waiver is available for people who can’t afford the fee.
But for the south Island, alerts are the only option on Gayton’s website. The region is considered a ‘high demand area’ – one in which the demand for doctors is so high that openings can’t be posted online because it results in an overwhelming number of phone calls to the clinic.
“The demand in Victoria is ridiculous. I was surprised how Victoria is a real problem – and Nanaimo – while the rest of the Island is pretty well served,” Gayton said.
With the alert system, users are notified on a first-come, first-serve basis. But it’s not often that availability opens up.
In some areas, telemedicine options launched during the pandemic opened up availability at clinics, Gayton noted, but for Greater Victoria, the demand still outweighs the supply.
“The idea of everyone calling all the clinics – what a burden on the clinics that is – and a burden on the patients,” he said. “So I think there must be a better way to do it, but it’s not easy in a place like Victoria.”
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