With Canada under strict social-distancing rules and facing an unprecedented demand for medical resources due to COVID-19, many British Columbians are turning to virtual medicine for help.

The idea of telemedicine is not new, but operators of video-based health-care say they’re witnesses a never-before-seen interest in their services.

“Many clinics are just not accepting walk-in clients at this point. Most clinics are having people call ahead and do a screening. It’s really challenging out there for people to find access to care,” said Blake Adam, the CEO of Medimap, a website that lists real-time waits at walk-in clinics in five provinces, including B.C.

“People are struggling to navigate the system right now, the health-care system is totally overwhelmed right now, (and) people end up relying on the emergency department when they shouldn’t.”

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2:34Kelowna doctors proving telemedicine can slash patient travel time

Kelowna doctors proving telemedicine can slash patient travel time

The company has launched a new online service that connects people with a doctor via video.

The service is free for people with provincial health insurance coverage, and can be used for routine care needs, such as getting a prescription filled. The wait is about 10 minutes.

Medimap does not have access to personal medical information, Blake said, and doctors using the new video service can directly fax prescriptions to pharmacies so patients can go pick them up.

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