Quebec took advantage of the COVID-19 to exit Hi-health clinics and impose its own solution to making medical appointments online.
In the context of the pandemic COVID-19, medical clinics have been forced to adopt the platform Rendez-vous santé Québec (RVSQ) established by the ministry of Health, rather than the platform private Hi – health.
“Due to pressure of the MSSS [ministry of Health] to make our places of appointments available at the RVSQ […] we had to refocus the web site,” says one of the letters obtained by our Bureau of investigation. In the document drawn up by a group of family medicine, it is stated that Quebec wants to facilitate the work of nurses in the context of the pandemic.
However, this has the effect of limiting the options of Quebec, who currently have two choices to make an appointment online with a doctor :
- The private solutions, such as Hi-health, in which some options are paid.
- This free platform of the government, Rendez-vous santé Québec.
For the moment, doctors use 10 times more the first privacy option (see below).
The dispute began before the COVID. Already in January, Quebec wanted to force all of the family medicine groups (FMG) to use the system of making an appointment e-government in their clinics.
Outside, the private
Of negotiation documents between the ministry and the Federation of general practitioners, obtained by our Bureau of investigation, indicate that Quebec city wants to force all of the GMF to use “an electronic system provincial” for their appointment.
The system that wants to impose Quebec has all the features of the RVSQ. It must be free for all patients and display all of the appointment slots offered. Exit the private systems paid as Hello health.
Our Bureau of investigation has also obtained a letter signed by many of the GMF, which require changes to the project. They want to remain free to choose the platform of their choice.
“We believe that the self-management clinics must be respected, we suggest that the government require clinics to choose the option that suits them,” says the missive sent to the head of a CIUSSS montreal.
Calm down the grumbling
Quebec defends himself wanting to impose its solution. “Several elements could be modified in the document, wrote the spokesman of the minister for Health, Mary Barrette. There is no question of putting pressure on the GMF for the use of RVSQ. “
In addition to making an appointment, many doctors also use other services offered by Hi-health, such as tele-consultation.
Two competing systems
Rendez-vous santé Québec
- Free website of the government
- Quebec has invested more than$ 11 Million
- The super-clinics must use it to keep their funding
- Used by 116 clinical
- Private website
- Free to search, in a clinic where the citizen is a member
- Cost about $ 20 to a search in other clinics
- Used by 1013 clinical
Unfair competition ?
Benoit BrunelFounder of Hi-health“>
Benoit BrunelFounder of Hello health
The creator of Hello health screaming at the unfair competition, while the government tries to impose its own platform of online appointment scheduling in medical clinics.
“It is a total aberration. I hear of ministers economic say that it is necessary to help our SMES to leave the job after the COVID. It takes innovation in health. But on the field, you take the taxpayers money and they prey on SMES, ” says Benoit Brunel, president of Tootelo.
“They want to force medical clinics to use an inferior technology. And it is to the detriment of 200 jobs at Hi-health. “
The creator of the website was big on the heart. For the past eight years, he tries in vain to convince the ministry of Health and social Services (MSSS) to use its platform.
“I do steps so that the search engine is paid by the public plan. I’ve proposed, I don’t know how many times. He pays for the service, a bit like the ambulances, ” he said.
In 2014, Benoit Brunel claims to have met with the new liberal Health minister of the time, Gaétan Barrette, to offer its technology already functional. He was very interested, he says.
A year later, the ministry of Health launched, however, a call for tenders to create a system that is virtually identical.
Mr. Brunel points out that Hello health offers several options, such as telemedicine and the management of the flow of patients in the clinic, compared to the platform of the ministry.
He believed that he would have the ear of a government of the CAQ, but he believes he be deceived. Mr. Brunel recalls that his platform has experienced a record year with more than 3 million visitors last year. He feared, however, that the efforts of the department will come put it in danger.
“The MSSS has the capacity to close in just about any box. It is so much what I saw, it has no common sense. ”
Discord between the minister Carmant and officials
The deputy minister of Health and social Services, Lionel Carmant, during a question period at the national Assembly last November.
Quebec has had to put water in his wine to calm the mounting anger of family medicine groups (GMF).
A first version of the contract with the family medicine groups stated bluntly that all clinics should only use the platform of public health Appointment Québec (RVSQ).
Several doctors were angry before the first requests of Quebec, as well as the office of the minister has had to intervene with the officials. The term “Rendez-vous santé Québec” was replaced by ” provincial system for free.”
The doctors were particularly angry that the minister Lionel Carmant had stated publicly last fall that it had no obligation for all general practitioners to use RVSQ.
“Our approach, with the government, has always been collaborative,” he argued.
“Let’s say that there has been evolution in the folder and the first document stated that,” admitted the director of communications in the cabinet of Lionel Carmant, Marie Barrette. “Our commitment to the firm and to the MSSS in is one of collaboration. “
According to our sources, the negotiations with the GMF have been put on pause because of the COVID-19, but also to calm the mounting anger of doctors. They could resume by the end of the year. The office of the minister refused to comment on the record.
Originally, the ex-liberal Health minister Gaétan Barrette, who has set up the public system, was desirous that all the GMF use necessarily the RVSQ.
It would, however, not the vision of the minister Lionel Carmant. Behind the scenes, the latter would assert that the role of the State is not to create these technologies.
The officials and the cabinet are not on the same wavelength about this, according to our sources.
$ 5 million more
The minister has decided to inject $ 5 million additional in RVSQ, in order to resolve the failed computer in the platform.
The system for medical appointments public has been created by CGI.
Even if it is less popular than the private platforms, Quebec defends Rendez-vous santé Québec. “We note a steady increase in the use of RVSQ. The reactions of the field are very positive. The assessment of the tool is growing, ” said Marie Barrette.