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MONTREAL -- A recent study from the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) found only one per cent of Canadians use virtual care.

The study defines telemedicine as the use of any technology that helps healthcare providers collaborate and deliver remote care to patients.

Pascale Dery is vice president of communications and development at the MEI. She said there are many technological innovations in the public and private healthcare system via apps such as Akira, Maple, and Dialogue, and patients can use telemedicine on-demand to contact nurses or doctors directly for healthcare needs and cut down wait times dramatically.

"It's something that we should be using a bit more," said Dery.

Certain hurdles remain in place for the technology to thrive, such as doctors needing province-specific licenses to treat patients remotely.

"Let's say you have an Albertan doctor who wants to treat a patient in Quebec through a virtual-care consultation - he cannot do it," said Dery, who added that several polls and studies have found doctors would be willing to do extra hours to get the additional licenses.

"They're not doing it right now because they don't have the incentive to do it," said Dery.

Dery said telemedicine is the way forward and thinks more people should take advantage of it.

"It exists. It works. It's reliable. It's efficient. So I think more and more elected officials see the benefit of telemedicine throughout the country," said Dery.  

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