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Dr Sheila Lakhoo

April 10, 2020

For our inaugural episode we sat down with Dr Sheila Lakhoo – a family doctor who leads the Telemedicine Impact Plus clinic at St Michael’s Hospital. Recently she has also been the Medical Director at Union Health (a new clinic owned by Telus Health utilizing their own telemedicine app called Akira) and practices lifestyle medicine at One80Health – an integrative clinic in Yorkville.

Her take on the current situation:

  • OHIP Billing codes now covering telemedicine through 3rd party apps (like Telus/Union Health’s Akira app)
    Physicians across Ontario are using a multitude of video conferencing software options (including Facetime, Skype and Zoom) to offer care because of the restriction lifted on HIPAA compliance with this pandemic
  • Until this pandemic the Ontario Telemedicine Network (provided by the publicly funded provincial healthcare system) was the primary means of conducting virtual consults and was mainly used for complex cases which may involve remote patients who didn’t have direct access to doctors in person
  • Most doctors across the province may not have every used telemedicine at all leading up to this pandemic
  • A lot of the online consults she is conducting include education about Covid and symptomatic diagnosis as well as how people can stay healthy whilst isolating

Vision for the near future:

  • If not a single platform emerging as ‘the best’ virtual care app, some form of unification of options may come in a new standard being developed and enforced at a platform layer
  • Better tools will emerge to save time and make processes easier for doctors using artificial intelligence and systems integrations – for example, automatic transcriptions of patient charting with virtual care (telephone and video conferencing) built into Electronic Medical Records systems
  • Some walk-in clinics may not be able to re-open post-pandemic
  • A large number of Ontarians who may not have regular doctors (typically who use walk-in clinics) may shift to primarily using Virtual care as their main interface with doctors
  • Doctors may choose to work online instead of in person where its more lucrative and efficient for their schedules

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