A Queen’s alumnus has launched a new telehealth service that is keeping hundreds of patients out of emergency rooms and doctors’ offices every week and reducing some of the burden on overworked healthcare professionals.
Calgary doctor Husein Moloo, Artsci’06, was planning on launching a virtual clinic called PurposeMed this summer to offer Albertans in remote communities the ability to have video appointments with doctors. When COVID-19 hit Canada, Dr. Moloo and his partners decided to shift their plans to help fight the pandemic, so they scrapped their four-month launch timeline and had their website up in four days in mid-March.
"I'm hoping it is a game changer," says Dr. Moloo. "Over 15 per cent of Canadians do not have a family physician, often because they live in remote areas. There has always been a need for virtual care, but the need is increasing because of social distancing."
It has only been running a few weeks, but PurposeMed already has 25 doctors and has seen as many as 400 patients in one day. Anyone in Alberta can log onto the website and see a doctor on demand, for free. The demand was so large on the day it launched that the PurposeMed servers crashed. Fortunately, they were back up and running the next day.
The video service is also helping keep doctors suspected of having contracted COVID-19 on the front lines, pending test results. Dr. Moloo was one of several physicians to see patients remotely while self isolating due to COVID-19 symptoms. (His test came back negative.)
“It’s not a matter of if, it is a matter of when physicians start getting infected by COVID-19,” says Dr. Moloo. “Hopefully they only have mild cases and we can help them continue to see patients virtually.”
Dr. Moloo is currently focused on helping everyone get the care they need, which is why any physician in Alberta can sign up for free and use PurposeMed to see patients, and it will always be free for patients. “From the beginning, since going to Queen’s, it’s been ingrained in me that you give back,” he says.
Dr. Moloo says PurposeMed is ramping up and expanding quickly. He plans to have the service operating in Manitoba and Saskatchewan by mid-April, and would eventually like it to be available across Canada.