Skip the waiting room and book your wellness appointments right now using these five Toronto-based apps
Health-conscious Torontonians can now get access to medical advice and treatment using their smartphones, thanks to a handful of new health and wellness apps. Here’s how five of them work:
For custom benefits: League
League is a digital health insurance platform that makes workplace benefits more flexible, and easier for employees to use. With the app, small- to mid-sized employers can choose a package that works best for their staff. Employees can then personalize their packages by choosing where to allocate their dollars from a “digital wallet” with two spending accounts: one for health spending (visits to the dentist, for example) and another for lifestyle spending (like massage therapy). Staff can book and pay for appointments immediately through the app—zero paperwork required—and have access to an extensive roster of community-rated dentists, naturopaths, optometrists, massage therapists, nutritionists, and workout instructors, all of whom apply to join the online marketplace through League.
Professional cred: The app was founded by former Kobo owner (and one of Toronto’s most brilliant tech entrepreneurs) Michael Serbinis.
For immediate therapy: TranQool
Therapists aren’t one size fits all. The web-based platform TranQool helps Torontonians find the right counsellor using a customized profile, which asks why you’re there and what you want to work on (the most common issue is anxiety). Users are then matched with a selection of certified counsellors who best suit their individual needs, and can book a video call at their convenience. Each session is $80 for 45 minutes.
Professional cred: All of TranQool’s therapists go through a multi-step screening and interview process that was developed by Dr. Sanjay Rao, a professor of psychiatry and clinical director at the Royal Ottawa Hospital. All therapists must be insured, registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers or the College of Psychologists and have extensive experience with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
For on-demand massages: Massago
Massago, the brainchild of Sanctuary Day Spas, brings professional massage therapists to the homes or offices of busy, sore-backed city-dwellers. Sessions—which include prenatal, sports, deep-tissue and Swedish massages—are priced based on length of time (costs range between $109 for an hour to $149 for an hour and a half). Payment is coordinated through the app, so there’s no need to worry about having cash on hand, and users receive an insurance receipt following the treatment.
Professional cred: The app only works with qualified RMTs registered with the College of Massage Therapists in Toronto, and they all go through a hands-on, in-person interview with the app’s head recruiter, Melissa Bennett (she’s the regional manager of a few Sanctuary Day Spa locations). Massage therapists must also provide two references and a background check.
For mobile doctors: Akira
To save Ontario residents from spending ages in a walk-in medical office or after-hours clinic, Akira connects potential patients with physicians via text and video calls. Users can receive instant medical advice, specialist referrals and even have prescription refills delivered to their door. The service is open until 11 p.m. from Monday to Saturday. It’s free to register and speak with an intake nurse, but an initial doctor consult and two days of follow-up care is $49. Users can also choose to sign up for a monthly individual membership (perfect for hypochondriacs), which includes unlimited text and video access to the app’s care team for $12.50.
Professional cred: All physicians are appropriately board-certified: family physicians are certified by the College of Family Physicians in Canada, specialists are certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons and Ontario doctors are certified with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
For streamlined surgeries: SeamlessMD
SeamlessMD, a new platform that’s now used by Sunnybrook Hospital, digitizes the pre- and post-surgery process for a wide variety of procedures including bariatric surgery, cardiac surgery, total joint replacement and thoracic surgery. The app has been proven to reduce ER visits and cancelled surgeries by sending timely reminders via text (for example, about upcoming appointments, when to take prescribed medications or what foods to avoid) and encouraging patients to log their recovery process with photos that are sent directly to their care team. Patients can also access follow-up information and watch videos on helpful post-surgery exercises.
Professional cred: The platform was developed by Carmine Simone, the Chief of Surgery at Michael Garron Hospital (formerly Toronto East General), so he knows his stuff.