New smartphone app gives Albertans access to virtual health care during COVID-19 pandemic

Babylon mobile app allows you to check symptoms, consult with doctors.

Using Babylon, an app developed by Telus Health, patients can have one-to-one video consultations with doctors, with the cost of those virtual visits covered by the Government of Alberta. Telus Health

CBC News Calgary March 19, 2020

Albertans are being offered a new tool for getting medical advice without having to go to a doctor’s office — an option that’s suddenly become more desirable amid the COVID-19 emergency.

Babylon is a free downloadable app developed by Telus Health that lets Albertans meet with licensed physicians in one-on-one video consultations through their smartphone. Download from the  Apple App Store or ▶︎ Google Play.

The app can be used to check symptoms — including those of COVID-19 — book appointments, see a doctor and get prescriptions and referrals, all covered under Alberta’s public health-care insurance.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says the joint initiative with Telus Health comes at a time when the health system is asking people to self-isolate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Using this app is an alternative to visiting physicians face-to-face when you’re not sure if your symptoms are related to the novel coronavirus or at any other time,” he said.

The service is already being offered in British Columbia.

Source CBC News Calgary

  Further reading
Safety of patient-facing digital symptom checkers, Hamish Fraser, Enrico Coierab, David Wong. The Lancet. Volume 392, Issue 10161, 24–30 November 2018, Pages 2263-2264. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32819-8. PDF

Building your Babylon, Ron Bridges MD and Paul C Adams MD FRCPC Editor-in-Chief. Can J Gastroenterol. 2008 Mar; 22(3): 233–235. PDF

Also see
Babylon Health app error allowed U.K. users to watch videos of other patients’ private doctor visits CBC News Calgary
‘We’re in uncharted waters’: Doctors adjust as virtual appointments become the new norm CBC News Edmonton
Coordinated response required to optimize telehealth diring COVID-19 pandemic Techcrunch
No privacy review completed of controversial Telus Health Babylon app CBC News
Alberta gives doctors go ahead to see patients virtually CBC News
‘It’s a storm’ – Tensions rise between Alberta physicians and provincial government Calgary Herald
NDP calling on UCP to ensure privacy of Albertan’s health info Morinville News
Telus virtual health-care app touted by Alberta government sparks outcry from physicians CBC News Calgary
Alberta doctors ‘beyond frustrated’ with virtual care app amid coronavirus crisis Global News
App allows Albertans to see doctors without leaving their homes CTV News
Filling the medical care gap or causing cracks? Telus launches health app CBC British Columbia
This Health Startup Won Big Government Deals—But Inside, Doctors Flagged Problems Forbes

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