On-demand virtual health care with certified family doctors replaces long doctor's office waits
TORONTO, May 18, 2016 /CNW/ - Today Akira, a mobile platform that connects patients to family doctors on demand, launches to bring patients one-on-one consultations straight from their smartphone. Available for download on Android and iOS, the app allows patients in Ontario to consult with board-certified physicians by secure mobile text or video, and provides users mobile access to personal health records including clinical notes, prescriptions and test results. Akira is launching with $500,000 in seed funding from investors including Shopify founder Tobias Lütke, Top Hat founder, Mike Silagadze, and venture capital firm HIGHLINE.
"The way Canadians interact with their doctors hasn't really changed in 100 years. Technology has revolutionized almost every other aspect of our lives except the healthcare system," said Dustin Walper, co-founder, Akira. "At Akira, we're focused on bringing high-quality health care to people everywhere, and we're leveraging technology to do it. We're starting with the Akira app, but our ultimate goal is to build the world's smartest artificial medical assistant."
With the push of a button, Akira enables users to speak with an Ontario-based doctor immediately. Once logged in, users can begin a text conversation with the doctor, and based on the patient's situation, doctors can immediately launch a video chat if necessary. Users can start a chat with a doctor any time Monday-Friday between 9am - 5pm or Saturday between 10am - 6pm. Text messaging is ideal for a quick question or concern, and doctor response time is typically within two minutes.
Akira can be used to diagnose and treat many common health problems such as anxiety or depression, urinary tract infections (UTIs), rashes, and the flu. Doctors can write prescriptions and send them to the user's pharmacy of choice, refer patients to specialists or allied health professionals, and order tests. Through partners, Akira also offers free, same-day delivery of prescription medications to the home or office. Prescription information including frequency and dosage is also easily accessible in-app.
The company was co-founded by Walper, who previously co-founded web and mobile development agency Myplanet, and Dr. Taha Bandukwala, a radiologist who recently completed residency at The University of Toronto. Akira is also launching with a team of female and male general practitioners, including Dr. Shazeen Bandukwala, Dr. Shayda Ziai, and Dr. Paul Frydrych.
"Akira's mobile health platform is bringing much-needed change to a medical system still reliant on fax machines and paper charts," said Dr. Taha Bandukwala, chief medical officer, Akira. "According to the American Medical Association, up to 70 per cent of doctor's visits could be conducted virtually, saving an unnecessary trip to the doctor's office. Canadians are demanding better access to health care, and we built an interdisciplinary team of physicians, developers, data scientists and designers to bring transparency, accessibility, and user-friendliness to the patient experience."
Akira is available through a monthly subscription service for $9.99/month, which provides unlimited access to the platform's team of doctors and nurse practitioners, and can be cancelled at any time. The service can also be provided by employers as an extended health benefit, and companies including Pivotal Labs, Top Hat, and 500px are currently offering Akira to their employees. During a closed beta test this spring, over 2,000 people signed up for Akira and had over 750 doctor consultations. If each consultation saved one hour of wait time at a clinic, Akira has already saved patients over 31 days of wait time.
When it comes to patient information, Akira follows the stringent privacy rules set out by the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA). All consultations are private, and patient data is encrypted and stored in Canada. iPhone users can enable TouchID protection to prevent unauthorized access to their health records. Additionally, only patients and their doctor or medical staff can view patient data.
Akira should not be used for emergencies, and is not a replacement for the most responsible physician in cases of chronic disease, cancer or other complex care conditions.
Akira is currently available in Ontario, but will be expanding to other provinces soon. The app is available for download on the App Store and Google Play Store.
Founded in 2015 by Dustin Walper and Dr. Taha Bandukwala, Akira provides health care services that work the way you do and on your schedule. Akira, a Japanese name meaning bright or intelligent, aims to change the way modern health care works by providing a much-needed mobile option to a system still reliant on fax machines and paper charts.
Image with caption: "Akira (CNW Group/Akira)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160518_C1247_PHOTO_EN_693261.jpg
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