New studios take strain off ERs

Two medical studios in Kamloops aim to help those without a primary care physician, and take the strain off emergency rooms.

An initiative aimed at helping people who are without a primary care physician has recently opened two patient studios in Kamloops, in an attempt to keep those with semi- and non-urgent medical issues out of the emergency room.

Medview MD, which began in  Ontario in 2015, has opened studios at Kipp-Mallery Pharmacy and Kleo’s Pharmacy Remedy’s Rx. “We’re targeting areas with a lack of primary care access,” says John McCruden, MedviewMD’s VP of Business Development (Western Canada). “Places where people don’t have a family doctor, so if they have a medical issue they either have to go to a walk-in clinic or the emergency room.” McCruden says it was apparent there was an issue with primary care in the area. “This was something the community could use.”

While the studios do accept walk-ins, McCruden says it’s preferable if people make an appointment. Each studio is equipped with medical diagnostic equipment and staffed by a Registered Practical Nurse, who takes information and medical history from the patient, and discusses their issue. The nurse then contacts a physician, who conducts a video consultation  with the nurse and patient.

“The nurse acts as the hands of the physician,” explains McCruden. “She  uses the diagnostic tools, which allows the physician to see the issue in real time and make a diagnosis.” The physician can monitor respiration, temperature, and heart rate in real time, and a high resolution camera in the studio allows them to take pictures. The physician can also order blood or lab tests, prescribe medications, or refer patients to specialists.

As long as the patient is a B.C. resident with provincial MSP coverage, there is no charge, says McCruden. “The patient provides his or her MSP number, and the cost is billed directly to the government.” Details of each patient’s visit are kept in a secure electronic medical records system, which means that on subsequent visits the patient’s information is immediately accessible, and he or she can see the same physician as before.

The company is the brainchild of founder and president Dan Nead, whose brother-in-law is an emergency room physician. “Dan put the pieces together. There are so many issues families face when they have to use emergency rooms as their primary care source. That’s not what ERs are set up to provide.

“We’ve chosen pharmacies to embed our studios in, as they’re the centre of care in their communities. Pharmacists work closely with doctors, so it makes perfect sense to locate our studios there.”

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