The healthcare space is changing drastically. With the help of emerging technology, telehealth now plays an important role in shaping how people experience healthcare. Through new tools and software, telehealth is being integrated in day to day life. Maple, a platform that connects patients with doctors in minutes through their computer or mobile device, is leading the charge in Canada, making healthcare more accessible across the country.
Dr. Brett Belchetz, the Co-founder and CEO of Maple believes that this combination of healthcare and technology will dramatically improve the experience of patients. He and his team have been working to make healthcare more accessible with a series of consumer facing and hospital focused technologies. To showcase these new healthcare platforms, we bring to you a unique interview with Dr. Brett Belchetz.
What is Maple? How does it benefit patients and doctors?
Maple is a virtual care platform that tackles some of the world’s most meaningful issues in healthcare, starting with timely and convenient access to doctors and other healthcare providers. Maple’s consumer-facing platform allows patients to connect directly with doctors in minutes from their smartphone or computer 24/7/365.
This system is also leveraged by employers, as a means of reducing workplace absences and increasing team productivity. In addition, Maple provides customized technology solutions for hospitals and clinics that are seeking to advance in the delivery of care. These systems include Canada’s first-ever telehospitalist platform, as well as ER-diversion technologies.
What are your contributions towards the company? What led to the inception of Maple?
I’ve been an emergency room doctor in Toronto for over 15 years. Throughout the years, I’ve seen wait times grow longer and longer while precious resources grow scarcer. Many of my patients have no family doctor, and even those who do often can’t obtain an appointment for weeks. It has always upset me when I saw my patients waiting 4 hours or more to see me in the ER for basic family medicine type issues.
They are usually losing out on a day of work or missing out on important life events. Sometimes they are exposed to the flu while waiting for something that could have been addressed in a few minutes on the phone. I always thought there had to be a better way.
A few years ago, I had a eureka moment after I gave three separate friends’ medical advice by text message in a single week. All three of them were able to avoid a lengthy ER visit and a large amount of anxiety.
In my head, I thought “this is so unfair that my friends and family can access a doctor’s advice any time by text message, while most Canadians have to wait for hours in a waiting room.” My second thought was “wouldn’t it be amazing if we created a service that lets all Canadians contact a doctor the same way in minutes?” And thus, Maple was born.
How is the internet helping to shape healthcare and how is it enabling Maple to accomplish its mission?
At Maple, we believe that through technology and innovation, you should have access to healthcare professionals when and where you need it. You bank online, shop online, and work online. Why not access healthcare online?
Our mission is to tackle some of the world’s most meaningful issues in healthcare, starting with timely and convenient access to doctors and other healthcare providers – so that you can feel better, faster.
Describe the extraordinary journey of Maple so far. Where do you portray it in the years to come?
Maple’s journey has been defined by solutions. When we launched in 2016, we saw ourselves as a purely consumer-facing platform, which would provide timely access to Canadians. Shortly after, a number of businesses approached us to ask about our corporate offering, so we crafted a solution tailor-made to their needs.
Similarly, our hospital program was born out of the determination of the administrators at Western Hospital in Alberton, PEI, who needed to address ongoing physician shortages. Working hand-in-hand with them, we created Canada’s first-ever telehospitalist system.
There are countless other issues that technology can solve in the years to come to make Canada’s healthcare system a world leader, and we will continue to address them.
Describe the revolution that ‘Telehealth’ has brought to the healthcare industry. What are its effects?
Telehealth is the future of sustainable healthcare delivery. It’s been shown that over 50% of healthcare issues can be addressed safely online, with higher rates of patient and provider satisfaction seen compared to in-person care. As our population ages, telehealth allows us to treat patients in the home, saving our precious and expensive hospital capacity for the neediest among us.
Also, telehealth evens the playing field between rural and urban locales, allowing even the most isolated regions to have access to the top medical professionals in the world.
Share with us the most remarkable customer experience along with awards and accolades.
One of the most powerful customer experiences happened on a train traveling through rural Ontario. Hours away from any hospital, a person went into anaphylactic shock. They had an epi-pen, but being in shock, they couldn’t remember how to use it. The person traveling with them logged into Maple, video conferenced with one of our doctors for direction, and then administered the shot. In only took a matter of minutes, but saved the patient’s life.
Our telehospitalist program, which has been keeping the doors open at Western Hospital in Alberton, PEI through Canada’s first virtually staffed inpatient ward, has also been highly recognized by both the Government of PEI, winning its Department Innovation Award and the Health PEI Board’s Leadership in Quality and Safety Award in 2019. The program has also been recognized in the province’s Legislative Assembly in 2018. We were a finalist for the Canadian Health Informatics Awards in the Patient Care Innovation category as well — the response to the program was amazing.
What advice would you give budding entrepreneurs in the Telehealth space?
It’s easy to get side-tracked by the pursuit of revenue and growth, so it’s important to always maintain your “north star” of why you went into this in the first place. For us, that’s to improve the health of patients in a sustainable way. We’ve been guided by this in all the decisions we’ve made and it served us well.
What are your future goals? Are there any exciting services in the queue to be launched?
Since last year, we’ve been adding a number of specialties to the Maple platform, from dermatologists to lactation consultants. In the near future, we see Maple as the connecting platform, between all your healthcare providers, allowing you to connect with any type of practitioner through the platform which will act as a repository for all your health records to enhance continuity of care.