That service is in the shape of Telemedicine, a newly developed avenue in providing health care, created by Livecare, a doctor-owned B.C. company. The new avenue comes in the form of a rather novel piece of technology, allowing a doctor to examine the patient through a two-way camera, equipped with all the necessarily devices, which is utilized with the help of a qualified nurse.
“I personally consider that [medical clinic] essentially a family practise, regardless of whether we’re here full-time or whether we have Telemedicine service because we have a nurse on the floor there who sees patients and works with them,” Dr. Iqbal Siddiqui explained. “The limitation between doing the Telemedicine with our nurse on the ground and physically in person is not really, in my opinion, a limiting factor.”
Dr. Siddiqui does concede that “some procedural-based visits” do require the doctor to examine a patient in person, but goes on to say that those are booked during the one-week per month interval in which himself or his wife, Dr. Muniba Khan are in-house.
With such a successful launch of Telemedicine within the District of Taylor, as Dr. Siddiqui cites mostly positive feedback from the community, it’s a wonder if Northern Health or the doctor-owned practises are considering the implementation of this health care delivery model in the City of Fort St. John.
“If the opportunity exists, and we’re already working in Taylor, than it makes sense for us to be able to help provide services in Fort St. John,” Dr. Siddiqui said while explaining how he does come into town to provide some services, but not to the extent he could reach.
Dr. Siddiqui adds, “I am going to be touching base with them and meeting with Dr. Temple when I go up later this month, and we’ll see. We’re there, we like to help out in ways that we can and we’re open to doing that; and if that’s in terms of helping out with any pre-existing clinics…, or if there’s a Telemedicine clinic that plans on being open in a similar type of model, we’re certainly open to helping out in all those types of initiatives.”
Northern Health did not want to comment, claiming this decision as one to be made between Telemedicine and the doctors who run local practises.
Mayor Lori Ackeman does however disagree, and says at the very least, it’s Northern Health’s responsibility to initiate a conversation between Livecare and the doctor-owned practises.
“Northern Health has that relationship with physicians to provide service, so they’re going to have to have that conversation with Northern Health,” Mayor Ackerman explained. “They [Livecare] already obviously got a deal with Northern Health for Taylor, so whether or not it works for a larger community, we’ll see”
But just because Mayor Ackerman isn’t entirely sure Telemedicine would work in a larger community like Fort St. John, she’s anything but turning her nose up to the prospect.
“It is certainly not just a screen that you sit in front of,” Mayor Ackerman proclaimed. “That computer technology has attached to it a scope, a thermometer, blood pressure cuff, oxygen clip, camera; a variety of things that determine different diagnostic aspects the physician would be looking for.”
Mayor Ackerman adds, “It’s more in-depth than the Medio-type of application that a lot of people have been using.”
Mayor Ackerman also explains why the City of Fort St. John was unable to jump-start the initiative similar to what the District of Taylor has done. She says physicians own the medical buildings in FortSt. John, opposed to Taylor, which hold ownership to their medical buildings.
Dr. Richard Moody was unavailable for comment in time for publication.
Dr. Siddiqui concludes by saying the future of health care is here, taking the shape of Telemedicine and similar types of technology, going on to say there’s a doctor shortage across North America, even in urban centres like Vancouver.
“I think that the technology to improve communication and accessibility between patients and physicians, I can’t see any better way to do that,” Dr. Siddiqui said “…Anything that we can do to improve access to patients is [of] extreme benefit.”