The Globe and Mail: Meeting urgent healthcare needs with virtual solutions

Original article published in The Globe and Mail Medical Innovation Special Report on February 18, 2021. 

For more than six years, Toronto-based Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres hosted once-a-week aftercare therapy sessions for clients enrolled in its addiction rehabilitation programs. So when COVID-19 threatened the continuity of these much-needed sessions, Trafalgar’s CEO reached out to virtual care solutions provider OnCall Health and said, “Sign us up.”

“When COVID hit, I was determined not to leave our clients high and dry,” says Shane Saltzman, CEO at Trafalgar, which has been providing addiction treatment and rehab through residential and outpatient programs since 2013. “OnCall transitioned Trafalgar’s outpatient program to a virtual care platform within 48 hours of lockdown orders.”

The OnCall Health solution did more than move Trafalgar’s outpatient sessions from onsite to online. It also came equipped with all the features and functions needed to serve clients and manage an outpatient program – such as patient intake, appointment scheduling, billing and payment processing – within a platform that reflects Trafalgar’s brand, supports established programs and workflows, and ensures security and regulatory compliance.

“Trafalgar’s virtual care platform is very specific to the outpatient program it has developed over many years with its counsellors,” says Nicholas Chepesiuk, CEO and founder of OnCall Health. “We looked to integrate with Trafalgar’s existing patient systems so the data flows seamlessly between systems to allow things like creating video appointments right from their medical records system or automatically pushing clinical notes directly into a patient’s medical record.”

This commitment to providing a comprehensive and fully branded virtual care solution has drawn the attention – and patronage – of many other health-care providers. Last year, OnCall Health saw a 300 per cent increase in the number of health-care providers that have signed up for its solutions, and a 600 per cent increase in total use of OnCall Health platforms.

“Globally, OnCall helped facilitate over one million appointments in 2020, compared to about 200,000 appointments in the previous year,” says Mr. Chepesiuk.

For OnCall customers, being able to offer care virtually makes it easier to expand their programs and grow their practice. Trafalgar, for one, has increased the frequency of its sessions from once a week to twice a day from Monday to Friday, and now sees clients from outside its usual market base in the Greater Toronto Area.

“We were seeing maybe five to 10 clients show up once a week for aftercare, and now six to 10 show up at each of the two meetings we have five days a week,” says Mr. Saltzman. “We used to have three full-time therapists and now have 14 working in our intensive outpatient program. And between March and December last year, we delivered about 3,000 therapy appointments virtually. OnCall’s platform has allowed us to do all this.”