The founder of a virtual care platform says the service has seen a mass exodus of doctors after changes to fees for virtual services in Ontario kicked in this week.
The province reached an agreement with the Ontario Medical Association earlier this year that, as of Thursday, drastically reduces fees paid to doctors for many virtual visits.
Dr. William Cherniak, founder of virtual care platform Rocket Doctor, says the changes immediately resulted in 85 per cent of Ontario doctors leaving or discontinuing their services on his platform.
The platform – which serves as a virtual walk-in clinic – allows doctors who may also work elsewhere allocate a certain number of hours to see patients virtually across the province.
Cherniak says the platform previously had 20 to 25 physicians collaborating to provide care to between 500 and 600 Ontario patients daily, but today has one doctor providing care to roughly 20 patients or less.
He says services like Rocket Doctor offer greater accessibility for patients in rural areas as well as those who can’t find available family doctors, and reduce strain on a health system that’s under great pressure.
Ontario’s Ministry of Health and the Ontario Medical Association did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the effects of the changes to virtual-care fees.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
The Canadian Press