I am a Canadian who is grateful for our healthcare system. While I know it isn’t perfect, it is an excellent program that saves lives and improves the quality of life for a great deal of our population. As a mother to a child with a serious chronic illness, I appreciate it even more than I did in the past. Our hospitals and doctors are available to us when we need them without having to worry about finances, and that gives peace of mind. However, the availability of these services often leads to over-crowded emergency rooms, particularly due to people using the ER for non-emergent issues.
I’m guilty of taking my kids to the ER for a fever or possible ear infection, even though I know that these things can be treated in the doctor’s office. There have been times when I couldn’t get to the doctor during the day, or the symptoms appeared in the evening and I didn’t want to wait until the next day. I live in a small town that doesn’t have any walk-in clinics, so anyone in a similar situation and without a family doctor would have to use the ER for any medical needs.
Telehealth can offer advice as to how to proceed for medical issues, but both times I called them I received the same answer: “See your doctor or visit an ER”. They are staffed with Registered Nurses and their service is to triage patients, not diagnose or prescribe medication. Akira is a mobile app that provides instant access to a team of Canadian doctors, nurse practitioners and nurses experienced in family medicines. Akira for Families is their new service which can save moms like me a lot of time away from the ER or the doctor’s office.
I was provided a 6 month trial membership to Akira for Families. To use it, I downloaded the app on my smartphone (available for Android and IOS). My initial contact was with a Nurse Practitioner who advised me that the doctor would be with me momentarily and asked if there was anything she could do for me. I told her I wanted to register for Akira for Families and she did the initial intake. She asked me a variety of health questions about my age, etc and my medical history, and requested a copy of my health card (to be used for referrals).
Our interaction was recorded under the “My Health” heading in the app so that I can look back to see who I spoke to, when we spoke and what the outcome was. I really value the ability to look back at the history, particularly when dealing with the medical needs of an entire family.
When you sign into Akira, you are welcomed by a Nurse Practitioner or a doctor who asks you what concerns you have. The hours of operation are marked clearly at the top of the screen as well. A membership is not required to use the service, but it is not covered by OHIP either. There is a one time fee of $49 +HST available for a single consultation plus 48 -hours of service for any follow-up required. Single people can subscribe for $10/month or families for $20/month.
If you’re like me, you are probably wondering why you would pay for uninsured medical care. Now that i’ve used the service, I can say that I feel the service is worth the money. It not only saves the time of sitting in the doctor’s office or ER, it can give some quick peace of mind in those situations where you aren’t sure what type of care you need. The services Akira provides far exceed what I initially thought as well. Through looking at photos you provide, asking questions and reviewing your medical history, the medical team at Akira can diagnose you, prescribe medications and follow up on your care. They can forward all of your care through them to your family doctor as well, so that your care remains consistent. The biggest benefit is probably the amount of time that they have for each patient. Since they are not paid per patient, there is not an incentive to rush through the process or connect with as many people as possible. They have the time to make a thorough assessment of your symptoms before deciding what care you need.
The physicians you speak to at Akira are Canadian doctors and you can read their backgrounds on the app. Akira is not a replacement for emergency care and it shouldn’t replace your family physician, but there are many medical conditions that can be managed through Akira including:
- Colds and flu
- Sexual health
- Birth control
- Mental health
- Skin conditions
- Prescription renewals
- Eye conditions
- Sinus problems
- Travel medications
- Stomach bugs
Specialist referrals, lab requisitions and medication delivery can also be provided through Akira. You can even use the service when you are out of the country, as long as you remain a Canadian citizen and you are just traveling short term.
Overall, I am really impressed with the service and all that Akira provides. I believe it will be a very valuable tool for my family and free up some space in the ER. You can learn more about Akira and the entire medical team here: Akira Website.