First made available in British Columbia, the Babylon by Telus Health app is now available for residents in Alberta.
The Babylon app for iOS and Android allows Albertans to see a doctor using their smartphone and a video chat. The Alberta government made the announcement today, saying, “Albertans can use the service to check symptoms, book appointments, see a doctor, and get prescriptions and referrals for diagnostic imaging and specialists – all covered by Alberta Health Care.”
Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health, said in a statement, “This app is now available and ready for use in Alberta thanks to an alternative relationship plan, and it comes at a time when our health system is actively asking people to self-isolate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
According to the Alberta government, the new service is being delivered through an alternative relationship plan (ARP) between the province and Telus. Alberta currently has 61 ARPs with over 2,500 doctors.
Doctors can provide medical advice through videoconferencing, phone and email, and bill for these services using the health service code (HSC) 03.01AD, which includes care related to COVID-19.
The launch of the Babylon app in Alberta didn’t come without some controversy, as Telus, along with app itself was trending on Twitter, as people questioned the app, how it uses your data and the state of public healthcare in Alberta.
I am not downloading or using the new TELUS App until it can be confirmed that the doctors on there are doctors from Alberta. I will not support this because I love my family doctor and don’t want him or his office staff to disappear. @shandro @jkenney @DShepYEG
— Mary J Schalla (@jmmmacdonald) March 19, 2020
So @shandro and @jkenney are driving my family practice into the ground while at the same time selling my patients to TELUS, all while I'm self-isolated, sick, and phoning my own patients all day at $20 a call? WTAF? @Albertadoctors @AB_MD_WarRoom #ABdocs4patients @DShepYEG https://t.co/KkQSiguDOu
— Dr. Padraic McCombe (@patmccombe) March 19, 2020
Here you have it folks, the #TELUS app doctors not all living in Alberta. UCP govt is outsourcing family medicine and undermining your doctors at home. Diagnostic imaging following suit w cancellation of radiology contracts. Public health care getting chopped to pieces. #ableg pic.twitter.com/gi15F02gzP
— Dr. Wing Kar Li (@karliwithakay) March 19, 2020
“In partnership with the Government of Alberta, our virtual health-care service bridges time and distance for Albertans in need of expeditiously accessing a physician at no cost from the comfort of home, while simultaneously keeping our amazing health-care professionals protected,” added Darren Entwistle, president & CEO, Telus.
The Babylon app first launched back in March 2019, available to residents in B.C.