At a time when physical distancing is the order of the day, the services offered by Springdale, N.L.-based Medicuro are just what the doctor ordered.
The clinic connects patients to healthcare professionals through an online portal, protecting both patients and physicians from potential contact with the coronavirus.
Medicuro was founded in 2018 by Dr. Todd Young, a former nurse practitioner turned doctor.
Some of the conditions that can be diagnosed and treated by Medicuro’s staff include sprains, ear, nose and throat ailments, gastrointestinal issues and skin irritations, among others. They can also issue and renew prescriptions. A more comprehensive list of services can be found on their website.
A safe distance
“Virtual healthcare can definitely save lives” says Dr. Young. “People stay safe with physical distancing. Look at Italy – so far, 85 physicians have died there from Covid-19. Healthcare providers need to be protected too.”
“Look at Italy – so far, 85 physicians have died there from Covid-19. Healthcare providers need to be protected too.”
Asked if the virtual visit hindered the patient-doctor relationship, Dr. Young says his experience has shown the opposite. “The patient is in the location of their choosing, where they feel comfortable, so that they aren’t stressed by the experience of visiting a doctor’s office. I’ve also found that the degree of separation offered by the technology sometimes makes it easier for the patient to talk about their issue.”
Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, patients had to pay for Medicuro virtual visits. Now, during the pandemic, most services are covered by the provincial medical care plan. MCP will fund up to 40 visits per physician per day, says Dr. Young.
Not only has Covid-19 prompted provincial health coverage of Medicuro services, it has also prompted what Dr. Young describes as an “explosion” in demand. “We are actively trying to recruit more physicians, more nurse practitioners.”
The future of rural healthcare?
“I was born and raised in Springdale,” he says, explaining his passion for rural healthcare. Virtual clinics, he says, are ideal for rural and isolated populations.
Asked why his services weren’t covered by MCP before the pandemic, Dr. Young says he thinks it was coming – but it wasn’t a priority. “It’s a different way of doing things and it always takes time to get used to change. I think it was approved now because the need is greater now than it was before.”
According to a statement released by the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association in September 2019, approximately one in five residents of the province don’t have a family doctor.
Another statement, from the four provincial medical associations across Atlantic Canada in conjunction with the Canadian Medical Association, endorses virtual care as a valuable addition to the traditional healthcare system.
“Studies show that 80 per cent of in-office visits could be managed virtually.”
“Studies show that 80 per cent of in-office visits could be managed virtually,” says Dr. Young. He estimates that approximately five per cent of the people he treats require further medical attention beyond the virtual visit.