The Alberta Government has partnered with a division of TELUS Communications, TELUS Health, to deliver a virtual alternative to doctor appointments.

The province’s health care system has been actively asking people to self-isolate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of 5:30 p.m. on March 20, there were 195 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, including four in the central zone.

With this new application, dubbed “Babylon,” Albertans can now meet with Alberta-licensed physicians through their smartphone.

Services provided through the app — checking symptoms, booking appointments, seeing a doctor, and getting prescriptions and referrals for diagnostics imagine and specialists — are all covered by Alberta Health Care.

“Alberta is pleased to partner with TELUS to deliver physician services in a new way,” said Minister of Health Tyler Shandro in a news release dated March 19.

“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.”

In the release, Darren Entwistle, president and CEO of TELUS, stated the intent of the app is to expedite access to physicians, while simultaneously keeping health care professional protected.

“It is our sincere hope that we can mitigate the enormous pressure on our health care system through our technology, human ingenuity and compassion,” said Entwistle.

The service is being delivered to Albertans through an alternative relationship plan (ARP) between the Alberta government and TELUS. There are currently 61 ARPs in Alberta involving 2,500 doctors.

All physicians providing advice via telephone, email and videoconferencing, including virtual care, can bill for services using code (HSC) 03.01AD, whether care is related to COVID-19 or unrelated.

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The code will remain active for as long as the the chief medical officer of health determines it should be.

For more information, physicians can read the updated bulletin on providing telephone advice (Med 221), or email health-pcsp.admin@gov.ab.ca.

The app can be downloaded on the App Store or on Google Play.

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