Opportunities NB (ONB) has been sharing the stories of companies across New Brunswick stepping up with their products and resources to aid the country’s COVID-19 response.

The latest is eVisitNB, launched in February by Dr Hanif Chatur, an ER doctor in the Woodstock area, and Dr Jonathan Clayton, a family physician based in Stanley.

eVisitNB’s goal is to improve access to primary healthcare in New Brunswick. Its platform allows patients to book appointments with trusted New Brunswick physicians and discuss their health concerns by secure messaging, phone, or video. The platform is available in English and French and hosts providers able to speak English, French, and Spanish. Physicians can diagnose, treat, and prescribe from the platform. Additionally, they have a psychologist and counselling therapists on the platform offering virtual solutions to mental health challenges.

eVisitNB has played a key role in helping New Brunswick respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We reached out to Drs Chatur and Clayton to learn more.

ONB: What role has eVisitNB played in helping to flatten the province’s COVID-19 curve?

eVisitNB has played a significant role in flattening the COVID-19 curve in New Brunswick. On March 5th, through the leadership of the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS), Medicare, and the Department of Health, it was decided that virtual care would be paid for publicly through Medicare. This decision immediately made New Brunswick a national leader in the response to COVID-19.

As our platform was already live, we could rapidly mobilize our team of New Brunswick virtual care providers. Within days, we had a team of doctors working around the clock to help flatten the curve. Early days of the response were critical to our province’s current success. With patients advised to stay home as much as possible, and only utilize ERs for emergencies, eVisitNB was able to virtually bring the doctor to the patient. Our team coordinated COVID-19 testing, instructed patients on when and how to self-monitor and self-isolate, and reassured patients worried about the virus. In addition to helping directly address COVID-19 concerns, we also meet the physical and mental healthcare needs of New Brunswickers during this challenging time.

What can you tell us about your recent endorsement by the NBMS?

The NBMS has been a key advocate for virtual care and their support has been vital to our success. Dr Chris Goodyear, their President, has advocated for virtual care since he entered that role. He has spoken about the need to have a modern, stable, and reliable healthcare system in the future. When speaking to the Telegraph-Journal soon after we launched, Dr Goodyear was supportive of eVisitNB. In their campaign to inform and educate New Brunswickers about virtual care, NBMS has listed eVisitNB as an option for patients who have no or limited access to virtual care. By working with the NBMS, ONB, and provincial and national leaders in digital health, we can continue to reach towards our goal to allow all New Brunswickers access to timely, safe, and high-quality virtual care options.

ONB and the Province of New Brunswick have made digital health a focus sector. Do you feel NB is well-positioned to lead in this sector?

Yes, we are incredibly well-positioned. The leadership of the NBMS, Medicare, and the provincial government has made our province a national leader in virtual care. Our province has many world-class technology companies within our borders. With a progressive government and a digital landscape like we have here, we believe New Brunswick can be national and world leaders in the adoption and utilization of virtual care. These are exciting times. We want everyone in New Brunswick to have access to virtual care and are working towards that goal daily.

What role do you see eVisitNB playing in that broader Digital Health sector?

Our status as the only New Brunswick-based virtual healthcare platform makes us well-positioned to play a key role in digital health. We have an experienced group of physician leaders that have cared for many thousands of patients. Our leadership team has been working in the virtual care landscape for the past 3-4 years. We have strong relationships with many of the virtual care leaders across the country which will allow us to be dynamic in how we respond to the healthcare challenges we face now and into the future.

Speaking of the future, what’s next for eVisitNB?

We are continually working to expand, improve, and enhance eVisitNB. In a post-COVID-19 world, we envision a future where everyone in New Brunswick can have access to virtual care. We also see a future where all family physicians have the option to see, their patients virtually when appropriate. There is potential for more integration of virtual care in hospitals and ERs. As two doctors who work in rural communities, we have an interest in bringing virtual care options to rural areas that do not have access to primary care. We are presently working to bring these goals into reality. We are passionate and excited about virtual care in our home province! We are actively working to bring these goals into reality.

Learn more at evisitnb.ca, Facebook, and YouTube.

Be sure to visit ONB’s COVID-19 resources.

Written by Jason Boies