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Medeo, a website or phone app, allows people to connect with a real doctor in BC without ever having to leave home. Is it a convenient breakthrough in SCI medical care, or an alienating gimmick?

medeoappAlthough I’m very computer literate, I also like to stick to the old ways of doing things and often find myself feeling somewhat leery of technology that aims to dramatically change how I carry out common activities. However, I recently heard about, and have subsequently investigated, a new way to get medical care and plan to use it myself when needed.

I had certainly heard of virtual care before, but thought it was still in the future. However, like many people, I’ve had to wait long hours in the doctor’s office for a simple medication renewal and I’ve definitely heard stories from our members about challenges specific to SCI that can be experienced with some doctors.

Enter the relatively new service called Medeo, a website or phone app that allows people to connect with a real doctor in BC without ever having to leave home. Services include prescription renewals, lab requisitions, specialist referrals, and answers to many health questions. Some health needs will still have to be met through in-person appointments, so this is not meant as a replacement medical service. Instead, it’s meant to meet patient’s medical needs more effectively for some services.

medeoVisits are billed to MSP, so users have to provide health care and personal information when using the site. Requests are assessed, similar to a triage system in the Emergency Room, and then people are told whether the request must be met through an in-person appointment; if it can be met online, the person is then forwarded to a doctor. Users can also request an appointment at a specific time or with a specific doctor who is signed up to the service.

Several of our members have used Medeo already. There are some real benefits to being able to see someone online. For our members in smaller or remote communities, access to a doctor, any doctor, may not be an option the way it is in larger centres. Also, some of our members tell us that their own GP, if they have one, is not as experienced in SCI and its secondary complications. Some of our members find their doctor’s office isn’t fully accessible or has poor parking or limited transit service.

For our members in smaller or remote communities access to a doctor may not be an option the way it is in larger centres. Plus, some GPs may not be as experienced in SCI and its secondary complications.

One member saw Medeo advertised online and decided to check it out. She filled in her personal and medical information prior to the time she needed to use the service, and then requested a specific appointment time. She stated that the service was easy to use and just required a camera connection.

One member had this to say about why she chose to use Medeo:

“I have a great family doctor but in the past year rather than filling a prescription for a year as was his previous practice with me he would only fill it for 3 months. Since I’ve been on the same medications for years now that did not make sense to me so I thought this would be incredible for me – especially in the winter. The parking at my doctor’s office is horrid, even for a standing person.”

doctor-medeoAnother member reiterated how hard it is to get a doctor or an appointment in her local area, which is why a number of peers she knows in her community have also used Medeo and plan to do so again.

However, not everyone is happy with the increase in usage of Medeo. Some doctors have commented online that the lack of a physical exam may result in more people being told to go to the Emergency Room, whereas an in-person visit at a doctor’s office could allow the person to receive minor treatment there, rather than going to the ER. Others are concerned that fewer doctors will want to set up practice in rural areas if they have the option of simply working online, or that there will be less incentive for the government to encourage an adequate number of doctors to work in the smaller communities if too many people are being seen online.

One member let us know that her doctor was not happy about her choosing Medeo instead of coming to see him. Medeo allows users to choose whether or not clinical notes on the visit are sent to the regular GP. Sending the notes provides better continuity of care but it’s also important to maintain a good relationship with the in-person GP if at all possible.

The response I’ve heard from our members has been positive so far. In fact, one of our members outlined an unexpected benefit of her online appointment, something that doctors who see patients in person may want to be aware of:

“I honestly felt that the doctor was willing to give me more time than my family doctor. I didn’t get the feeling that there were 20 other people who had waited as long as I had waiting just outside the door.”

Medeo certainly isn’t going to be useful to every person or for every health need, but so far it appears to be one good option in the range of health services available in BC.

We’ll be following this issue as Medeo becomes more well-known and used. We’d be interested in hearing your experiences, good or bad, with this service and any thoughts when it might be best used. If you wouldn’t use the service, please share that as well.

Photos courtesy of Medeo.ca

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