As a result of the pandemic, pharmacies across Canada report an influx of patients and requests that would typically be directed to walk-in clinics and physicians’ offices, or from those avoiding visits to the local hospital emergency room.
That’s why Shoppers Drug Mart – in downtown Trail – is one of 12 franchise stores across the province that has launched a new in-store virtual care program. This new resource, a partnership between Shoppers Drug Mart and virtual care provider, Maple, will offer online doctor’s appointments where patients can be examined through video and text.
The goal is to provide access to more convenient and comprehensive health care for the 700,000 British Columbians who do not have a family doctor, as well as to those who are currently reluctant or unable to seek treatment elsewhere.
“Health is top of mind for everyone, particularly now, and this new service will help British Columbians get the medical care they need, when they need it,” said Jeff Leger, president, Shoppers Drug Mart, in a July 7 news release.
“Even if you don’t have a family doctor, you can get fast access to medical care in your neighbourhood and the support of your local pharmacist, all in one place.”
Many Canadians turn to their pharmacist as the first point of care for questions about their healthcare needs.
The idea of this partnership is to incorporate access to a physician at the pharmacy as a way to help patients address a broader set of needs during their Shoppers Drug Mart visit.
Shoppers says the end result will be a more convenient and comprehensive healthcare experience for all patients in B.C.
Virtual visits work much like those that occur in person: the doctor can examine patients through video, while taking advantage of in-store tools such as rapid strep tests, ask questions about symptoms, review health history and determine a diagnosis and treatment plan.
In this way, physicians can treat many conditions online including UTIs, strep throat, eye infections, sexual health issues, vomiting, diarrhea, skin issues and many more, providing treatment options and prescriptions as needed.
“Providing flexible care options to keep patients out of hospital and clinics is more important than ever for Canadians,” says Dr. Brett Belchetz, CEO and Co-Founder of Maple and a practicing ER physician.
“In-store virtual care is the perfect solution for this need. We are pleased to partner with Shoppers Drug Mart to join the expertise of our physicians with their pharmacists in one easy stop, effectively moving care into our communities.”
In-store virtual care will be offered seven days a week.
Pharmacists will help patients get set up with an in-store tablet or using a QR code on their own device and the virtual doctor’s visit takes place in the pharmacy’s private counselling room.
If the doctor provides a patient with a prescription, they will be able to select a local pharmacy from within the Maple app, to have it securely sent to, in minutes.
This offering will expand to most B.C. Shoppers locations by Aug. 4.