New website matches doctors and patients
A few years ago, Nikolai Bratkovski decided he needed a full medical checkup, so he went online looking for a new family doctor
"I thought, 'There must be an easy way to find a doctor, right?"
Except it wasn't easy at all.
According to statistics, there are barely two doctors for every 1,000 Canadians — one of the lowest ratios in the Western world.
In Ontario, it's estimated that only 10 per cent of all doctors are accepting new patients - and those that are may ask new patients to wait weeks for an appointment
"If you look at the ratios, its only one in 10 [doctors] that would be taking patients," said Bratkovski. "You might be calling 20 clinics and not getting anywhere."
Bratkovski came up with a solution. A website called Healthaware.ca.
With just a postal code it can show all the doctors in a specific neighbourhood and which ones are accepting patients.
Dr. David Kaplan is part of a North York family health practice which has 25 doctors serving 59,000 patients in Toronto.
He says the challenge facing the health care system isn't just a shortage of doctors.
"The people who do have family physicians, a lot of them are having problems getting in to see their family doctor," said Kaplan.
It's led doctors to consider some new initiatives including an online system for booking appointments and asking more family doctors to hold office hours on evenings and weekends.
Kaplan says it's all part of a bigger strategy, to tackle a much bigger problem.
"The problem is there are roughly 900,000 to one million people in Ontario who don't have a primary care provider."
Bratkovski also sees his website as part of the solution.
Soon he'll be adding GTA dentists and chiropractors to his site
But unlike GPs the dentists and chiropractors will have to pay to be listed.