You may have noticed a flyer hanging on your door advertising a new in-home doctor appointment service called Doctor Visits. With this service, you can make an appointment online or by phone and a doctor will come to your house.
Doctor Visits services the Vaughan and Brampton area and has recently expanded to Bradford West Gwillimbury. Currently, Doctor Visits has two doctors servicing the Bradford area on Sundays between the hours of 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.
“Once we get enough patient volume we will add more doctors,” said Barkaat Ahmad, one of the owners of the business.
Ahmad along with his two brothers and nephew own and operate the business together. In addition to Doctor Visits, Ahamd owns two other clinics in Bolton and Nobleton.
His wife, Dr. Saima Haleem, is a doctor and works out of his Bolton clinic. He also runs an Interactive Behaviour Therapy service for children with autism.
Ahmad has a 10 year old son with autism, which he said was the driving force behind the in-home appointment idea because he and his wife know firsthand how hard it can be to get to the doctor’s office with a child who has special needs.
In 2015, Ahmad and his family decided there were not enough support services for autism in their province of Nova Scotia, so they moved to Ontario where there were more programs and resources available for their son.
They started the Doctor Visits program in 2016 and are growing it throughout the Greater Toronto Area.
“House call service has been a unique service which can benefit people of all kinds like the frail and elderly,” he explained. “Instead of (patients) going to an ER setting or walk-in clinic and passing on the germs to each other.”
This type of in-home doctor service is not part of Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s mandate so there are no concerns about it, said John Challis, the health unit’s media co-ordinator.
As well, Brent Lee, manager of enforcement for the Town of BWG, said there are no local bylaws related this type of medical service.
Currently, however, the town is considering making changes to its zoning bylaws for home businesses, including allowing home-based medical practitioners.
There is currently one other similar service to Doctor Visits in the Bradford area called Simcoe County House Calls, which covers the Bradford and Barrie area and has two doctors on staff.
Bradford resident, Maria Angela Weeda said she has used Simcoe County House Calls before and is glad there is now another option for this type of service in town.
“Having two small children, sometimes it is next to impossible to be able to drag both kids into a crowded waiting room and wait for hours and hours on end,” she explained. “So to have this service available would really be a convenience.”
The service is designed for non-emergency-type appointments or as an alternative option for when a family doctor is unavailable, which Ahmad said could help keep non-urgent patients out of hospitals.
Karen Brown, another Bradford resident and mother, said she would also be willing to try the service.
“I would absolutely use this service. Knowing that my kids can feel yucky and lay in bed if they need to is amazing,” she said.
The appeal of the service to parents is that they do not need to bring their kids and have them wait in a clinical setting, she said.
“Even if I’m waiting five hours, I’m in a comfortable and safe environment. I can go about my day,” Brown said. “I don’t have to pack my house to go, I don’t have to take all my kids out, I don’t have to worry about entertaining them in an unfamiliar environment. It just makes sense.”
Doctor Visits is available by phone anytime from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week at 1-844-305-5005, or online at DoctorVisits.ca. Its services are covered by OHIP.