Thousands turn to virtual doctor clinic that is Babylon health app

Get a prescription from the doctor on your smartphone

If you’re one of the estimated 800,000 British Columbians who is without a family doctor you need look no further than your phone.

Telus Health launched the Babylon app for B.C. in March. B.C. is the first province in Canada to do so. Telus refers to the service as tele-medicine and it could be an important advancement in the ongoing doctor shortage in not only B.C., but Canada.

Think of it as a giant virtual clinic that can serve many of the more frequent medical needs. It can alleviate pressure on the lack of family doctors and the health care system overall. And it’s also highly convenient for the patient.

That includes thousands of families and residents in Greater Victoria who are without a regular primary physician. Most rely on walk-in clinics when they need medical care.

READ MORE: Telus pure fibre brings cash dream home to Oak Bay

To use Babylon on your smartphone, you simply open the app and enter your symptoms into an artificial intelligence “chatbot” that will start your personal health record. The data is quickly processed. You can book virtual appointments with a doctor, access doctor consultation notes and video consults, manage prescriptions and get referrals for diagnostic tests or specialists when needed.

Telus created the health care arm of their corporation out of social conscious and to help close a gap in Canadian health care, as there are five million people without a regular primary care physician.

“Telus has the infrastructure to do it,” said Juggy Sihota, vice president of consumer health with Telus. “We felt there was a role to play in terms of delivering information for health care.”

Granted, the service does not replace all medical visits. It is common that the app will suggest an in-person visit for health care.

However, it’s strengths are in prescriptions. It streamlines the prescription process.

“You can get a regular prescription refill, or get it renewed,” and the prescription is forwarded to the patient’s preferred pharmacy of choice, Sihota said.

In their partnership with the Ministry of Health the government wanted to ensure a continuity of health care was part of the service offered through Babylon.

Telus has invested more than $2.5 billion into Telus Health since it started with the $763 million purchase of tech company Emergis in 2007.

READ ALSO: Gendered codes affect trans folk seeking health care

As a history reminder, Babylon’s name is taken from, and inspired by, the ancient civilization on the Euphrates whose people valued knowledge (its ruins lie in modern-day Iraq). The tech company, Babylon Health, started in England in 2013. According to Babylon’s Canadian website, as early as 4,300 years ago the townspeople would gather in Babylon city centres to share “thoughts on treatments for common illnesses.” Thus, they democratized health care.

And thus, both Telus Health, and Babylon Health, see an opportunity to support modern health care.

Meanwhile, there is the additional element that Telus Health is now managing a growing caseload of private patient files. While it might seem like a significant move for Telus, the Ministry of Health said Telus Health’s role is no different than the management of personal information of any health clinic in B.C.

“Telus and Babylon are subject to the privacy protection legislation of B.C.’s Personal Information Protection Act,” shared ministry spokesperson Kirsten Booth said in a statement.

Telus Health would not release the number of registered B.C. physicians who are working with Babylon.

reporter@oakbaynews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ocean Boulevard could open after Labour Day

Colwood council expected to discuss options later this month

Sidney can ‘only educate and encourage’ people to social distance

CAO says municipality lacks legislative authority to enforce social distancing in public

View Royal fire chief calls for realistic solutions to ‘mess’ at Thetis Lake

Emergency crews harassed while extinguishing brush fire, rescuing drunk 15-year-old during long weekend calls

Greater Victoria woman goes on gratitude mission to thank first responders

Jen Klein fainted while driving and crashed on Pat Bay Highway in 2019

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Racism in B.C. healthcare: Deadline for First Nations survey coming up on Aug. 6

Survey comes after hospital staff allegedly played a blood alcohol guessing game

‘We want to help’: As overdose deaths spike, beds lay empty at long-term Surrey rehab centre

John Volken Academy searching for ‘students’ to enlist in two-year residential treatment program

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

Most Read