TORONTO — Shoppers Drug Mart and Canada’s leading virtual care provider, Maple, have launched in-store virtual care across British Columbia locations. Online doctor visits at Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacies are covered by B.C.’s Medical Services Plan (MSP), just like in-person appointments.
The virtual care service is intended to support British Columbians who may not have access to a family doctor. It will also alleviate pressure on overburdened emergency rooms, hospitals and walk-in clinics, giving patients a way to safely and conveniently access care during their day-to-day routines. As of today, in-store virtual care is currently accessible in 12 stores across British Columbia and will expand to Shoppers Drug Mart locations across the province by August 4th.
“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. “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. Incorporating access to a physician at the pharmacy will help patients address a broader set of needs during their Shoppers Drug Mart visit. The end result for patients in B.C. will be a more convenient and comprehensive healthcare experience.
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 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Pacific Time. 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.