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350+ Indigenous Organizations to Benefit From Teladoc Health Telemedicine Services

Teladoc Health, the global leader in virtual care, announced that its telemedicine services will now cover First Nations and Inuit populations through its partnership with Johnston Group, a leader in benefits and insurance options administration. Offered through Johnston Group’s specialty employee benefits program, CINUP, Teladoc Health telemedicine services will help more than 350 First Nations and Inuit employers close gaps in care access for their employees, many of whom live hours from the nearest primary care physician or hospital.

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The need for virtual care support for First Nations and Inuit organizations and employees is underscored by the fact that nearly 40 per cent of Canada’s Aboriginal population – comprising First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples – lives in rural areas. This need is exacerbated by the fact that only eight percent of Canadian physicians are reported to be practicing in these areas, as the majority are located in and around urban hubs. This limited patient support, coupled with a strained healthcare system and long wait times, has resulted in an absence of care for rural Aboriginal communities in Canada.

“The ability to access care when and where needed is critical,” said Dr. Hanif Jamal, medical director, Teladoc Health Canada. “Through Johnston Group, CINUP will allow individuals who previously delayed or avoided treatment to now have accessible, quality care on their terms. Employers can rest assured that their staff have the right resources to help eradicate the barriers previously preventing plan members from seeking timely care.”

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“This expansion of our partnership with Teladoc Health to support remote populations comes at an opportune time,” said Dave Angus, president, Johnston Group. “CINUP members can now get the answers they need for non-urgent medical concerns quickly and safely, greatly reducing the need to travel to a hospital where they often face long wait times in overcrowded emergency rooms. We’re proud of the vision and leadership that enables this important care access.”

Indigenous communities are welcoming today’s announcement, as First Nations and Inuit organizations can now offer their employees high-quality virtual care services, improving care access and subsequently reducing absenteeism in the workplace.  Absenteeism reportedly costs the Canadian economy $16.6 billion dollars annually, as illness-related productivity issues force employers to operate at reduced capacity when employee’s seeking care are not equipped with appropriate resources and support.

“Only having a doctor in our community a few times a week makes accessing care difficult, and there is no one here for immediate medical needs,” says Melanie Desjarlais, chief administrative officer, Sagkeeng First Nation. “In the past, employees would have to be away from work a long time if they needed access to a doctor to get a diagnosis. The availability of telemedicine services should surely help to eliminate many of those prolonged absences and bring more immediate peace of mind.”

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