UVic alumni launch virtual care to ease crisis

Blake and Mike
Blake Adam (BCom ’11), is the co-founder and CEO of Medimap, which has recently moved into facilitating virtual care. Mike Cousins (BSc ’05) and the PurposeMed team were working on a platform to serve patients in remote communities—then saw the potential to help now, during the pandemic. Photos courtesy of Blake Adam and Mike Cousins.

While few people on the planet saw COVID-19 coming, UVic alumni went into high gear to help once the pandemic struck. Both Blake Adam (BCom ’11) and Mike Cousins (BSc ’05) are part of teams now offering Canadians innovative ways to access safe and secure virtual care.

Adam is co-founder and CEO of Medimap, a company known for providing patients with up-to-the-minute wait times at their local walk-in clinics. They had already been working on technology to offer virtual care. “Fortunately, we were in a position where we were able to get it up and running in time to help people out during the crisis,” he says, speaking from Vancouver.

Cousins graduated with a degree in Computer Science from UVic and is now VP Software at PurposeMed, a telemedicine company based in Calgary. He says their original plan was to use the technology to help underserved people in Indigenous and remote communities, including those where doctors must fly in to provide service. 

“When the COVID-19 pandemic began, we quickly realized that our application could be used more generally as doctors everywhere are being forced to isolate if they have symptoms,” says Cousins from his Calgary home. “They can now use our application to conduct their regular appointments over a video call, and most provincial governments across Canada have responded by providing new billing codes enabling them to do this.”

Adams says the reception to the new Medimap virtual care has been “phenomenal” with many doctors signing up and good uptake from BC patients. “People using the service are on a video call with a BC-certified physician in under 10 minutes.” The virtual consults are covered for residents by their provincial plans.

Most walk-in clinics are now requiring patients to call in advance, notes Adams. He suspects virtual care will become more mainstream, and that patients won’t be go into an office just to review lab results in the future. Part of the key to their success has been keeping it simple and focusing on the needs of their user, he says. Medimap’s virtual care is now offered in six provinces.

Cousins collaborated with Calgary physician Dr. Husein Moloo to create the PurposeMed platform. He says while bureaucracy and privacy concerns can make healthcare software development challenging–the rewards of supporting Alberta public health and helping patients access care are worth it.

Alberta residents wanting to consult a doctor simply visit their website and join the waiting room. A doctor connects by audio or video call to do an assessment. The platform doesn’t collect any patient data beyond an email address used to communicate. PurposeMed has received messages of interest from hundreds of doctors and medical clinics both in Alberta and across Canada.  

Medimap’s users can access the service from a phone, tablet, or desktop computer and no download is required. Adam says UVic Commerce program’s emphasis on solving  problems has served him well—and believes the key to success as an entrepreneur is taking a first concrete step to make your idea real, such as securing a domain name or making a business plan.

The PurposeMed team originally planned to launch the platform three months from now, with a mission to limit barriers and increase access to care for all Alberta residents. While PurposeMed launched early to meet demand of the pandemic, the team will roll out their full platform in June—and Cousins says they are grateful to be able to help Albertans now.

- Jenny Manzer (BA ’97)