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

Oak Bay cyclist runner-up in Spanish stage race

Adam de Vos on podium amongst World Tour best in Spain

Unrelated occupancy limits creating divisions in Saanich

Gordon Head Residents’ Association wants to see conditions to hold landlords accountable

Oak Bay council looks to whittle down tax increase from 8.05 per cent

Draft financial plan continues hyper-focus on replacing aging infrastructure

Greater Victoria has Canada’s sixth-highest ‘moving penalty’

Disparity between vacant/occupied units incentivizes renovictions and reduces mobility, researcher says

Grave site at Ross Bay Cemetery vandalized overnight

Graffiti found on grave of Sir James Douglas

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support the proposed changes for ICBC?

Tuesday’s provincial budget predicted a shift from shortfall to surplus in wake… Continue reading

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Suspect at large after stealing seaplane before crashing into another in Vancouver

Police responded to the incident at 3:30 a.m. on Friday at Vancouver Harbour

PHOTOS: 2020 BC Winter Games kick off in Fort St. John

More than 1,000 of B.C.’s best athletes will be competing over the next three days

Meet the Wet’suwet’en who want the Coastal GasLink pipeline

Supporters of the pipeline are upset only one side is being heard nationwide

Most Read