It may sound like a joke, but there’s a growing trend of people turning to online clinics to find a doctor.
A new report says nearly half of all patients with chronic pain will use online clinics, including those with a shortage of health care workers.
Many of those patients are women, who often need a referral from a family member or friend.
But the report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) says the number of online doctors has doubled in the last year.
There are currently just under 5,000 online clinics in Canada, up from 1,700 in 2011, according to the CIHI.
“The majority of these patients will use an online health care provider to access care,” said Sarah Aitken, CIHI vice-president of research and analysis.
“And these clinics often work closely with physicians who may be out of the country.
The vast majority of the people using these clinics are women who need a medical appointment or who need referrals from a friend or family member.”
A list posted on Health Canada’s website for the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba contains a list of services offered through online health clinics.
Some of the services are designed for the under-18 age group.
Some clinics offer information about health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
There is also a link to an app for patients who need to know how to use the website to access appointments.
There’s also a phone app for people who need information about cancer treatment.
But there are many online providers that cater specifically to women.
For example, the Canadian Centre for Health Education (CCHE), a Canadian health care information and referral service, offers a free app for women to connect with other women in their health care area.
There also is a website for women who are looking for a health care practitioner, including a directory of physicians and clinics across Canada.
“We want women to have a place to turn,” said Jennifer McLean, executive director of CCHE.
“If they’re going to have to travel to a different province or country for a doctor appointment, then they should have a reasonable chance to find that doctor in their community.”
While some online clinics do have physicians in the office, some providers offer other health services, such as acupuncture or chiropractic care.
“There are certainly opportunities for women online to access healthcare services that are not available in the health system,” said Dr. John B. Brownell, a doctor in Toronto who specializes in spinal fusion surgery.
“It’s not as much about the doctor, but the woman in the waiting room.
In Alberta, where the number and size of online health centres has doubled since 2011, there are about 1,000 clinics. “
This is something we need to be doing more of, as a society.”
In Alberta, where the number and size of online health centres has doubled since 2011, there are about 1,000 clinics.
Many are run by the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons, which operates about 30 clinics across the province.
Many patients are referred to the clinics by friends or family members who live in a province with a low or no provincial health plan.
Brown, the CCHE doctor, said there is also an online referral service called the Calgary Health Network.
“I think what we need is a little more focus on the women who can’t get a referral and can’t access care in their own community,” he said.
“Because of that, there is a need for people to look into clinics where they can go in and find out how they can get their own health care.”
A recent survey by CIHI found about one-third of Canadian women have been referred to a clinic online, and about one in three women in the age group of 20 to 34 will be referred to one of these clinics in the future.
Brown said he’s concerned about a lack of funding for health centres in Alberta.
“That’s why I think it’s so important for people of all ages to look at the health services that they can access, and that they should be able to access regardless of where they live,” he added.
While there is currently a shortage in primary care in Canada’s three provinces, Brown says there are some promising signs that the trend is reversing.
“In general, we’ve seen an increase in the number who are seeking care outside the health care system, and this is something that’s going to continue to grow,” he told Global News.