Telehealth Ontario is a free, confidential medical service provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. It works 24/7, it’s available on French, English and has translation available, and it connects you with Registered Nurses. Be aware that this service shouldn’t be used in medical emergencies, and it won’t guarantee you a diagnosis. Calls are completely free, and it’s a first step towards the right direction to get the medical help you might need.
However, our research has shown that in case of needing a telehealth service, Maple is by far the strongest choice when compared to Telehealth Ontario. It’s available nationwide, you’ll connect with a doctor right away, and prices are very accessible (starting as low as $49 per visit).
Have you ever wished you could just talk to a medical health provider and ask them about some symptoms you’re having? Well, Telehealth Ontario lets you do exactly that, completely free, from your own home. All you need is a phone.
If you’re currently living in Ontario, you might be interested in this telemedical service. But how does it work exactly? Well, in this article we’ll explain everything you need to know about Telehealth Ontario, and how you can make the most out of it whenever you need it.
What Is Telehealth Ontario
Telehealth Ontario is a free phone service that anyone inside the province can call, with Telehealth Ontario you can get health advice whenever you need it. This is a confidential service that offers practical medical information over an open 24/7 phone line.
This phone service is directly provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. It offers medical advice both in English and French, and it’s meant to be used as a quick, effective way to get medical answers. However, the Government of Ontario is very clear when they state this phone line should never be used for emergencies, and when in one, you should always call 911.
Telehealth Ontario is the government’s answer to making medical services more easily available for their citizens. This way, you can get the help you need while also saving time. You can talk to a medical professional when you’re feeling sick and clear out any doubt you might have over the phone.
RELATED: You’re not from Ontario but still need online medical assistance? Read our article on EQ Virtual!
How Telehealth Ontario Works
To reach Telehealth Ontario you can call either of these two numbers:
These are toll-free phone lines that are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When you call, a registered nurse will immediately pick up and start to ask you questions about your current situation so they can give out proper health advice.
Keep in mind, the nurses aren’t authorized to diagnose you or give you a prescription. They’ll simply guide you through the situation and redirect you to a proper level of care.
After giving the nurse the necessary information, including what’s happening, what are your symptoms and why you’re calling, they may:
- Instruct you on how to handle the problem yourself.
- Tell you to visit a doctor or practitioner.
- Ask you to go to a clinic immediately.
- Help you get in touch with a community service.
- Request you to get to a hospital emergency room as soon as possible.
You should think about Telehealth Ontario as the first step in getting medical health. If the problem is simple, they’re qualified and able to help direct you. But if it’s more complex, even though you won’t get proper medical services over the phone, they’ll let you know what your best options are.
An important aspect to consider about Telehealth Ontario, is that they can only be reached through the phone. As of this article’s writing (April, 2020) they don’t have any kind of internet service available.
What To Expect When You Call Telehealth Ontario
Although Telehealth services aren’t really new, there are still people who aren’t familiarized with their use. So, to help you understand, let’s talk a little about what to expect when you call this line.
Related: Check out our blog post about Remote Health for Individuals, here.
First and most important, understand they keep a registry. Since it’s a confidential service, it’s very likely you’ll be asked to provide your health card number, so have it on hand when you call to make things quicker. They might ask for your name, address and phone number as well.
Second, you might have to wait a while to be connected to a registered nurse. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, this is something that’s happening quite a lot during, but on normal times, you can get transferred to a nurse right away.
As to the experience, you should be free to talk and explain what’s going on to the Nurse. Whether you need assistance with something, or simply have a pressing question, don’t be afraid to call and use the service. The nurse then will proceed to advise you on what your next steps should be.
That being said, some things you can contact Telehealth Ontario to talk or get advice on include:
- illnesses that won’t go away or keep coming back.
- injuries that might need medical care.
- Food and health related advice.
- Depression, suicide or any type of mental health concerns.
- Teen health.
- Support to help you quit smoking.
- Refugee health supports.
- Medical assistance in dying supports.
Telehealth Ontario vs Maple
Maple is a Canadian telemedicine platform that allows patients throughout Canada to check in with doctors online. You can directly communicate with qualified physicians and get a diagnosis, prescription, or sick notes if necessary. All in a matter of minutes.
Much like Telehealth Ontario, you can get medical assistance, however, Maple goes further than Telehealth, and connects you with a Doctor in a matter of minutes so you can get diagnosed over the phone.
Telehealth Ontario is a free medical service provided by the government. You can call anytime you need, any day of the week and won’t get charged.
On the other hand, Maple is a telehealth service that has different payment plans depending on what you’re looking for. Prices start at $49 per visit, but you can also find different medical memberships you can join and pay monthly.
Telehealth Ontario’s services are focused on helping you know when to start or where to get whenever you might be feeling a little bit off. You can call them and talk to a certified nurse to get help on common or recurring illnesses, minor injuries, food, and health-related advice and mental health advice. They are not qualified to diagnose you or properly treat you.
On the other hand, Maple is qualified to help you with so much more than common illnesses and injuries. They have specialists in every area such as pediatrics, pulmonology, psychiatry, dermatology and more.
With Maple you also get access to sick notes, doctor’s notes, online prescriptions, and test requisitions for lab work all through their platform.
Telehealth Ontario is an open phone line available every day of the week, twenty-four hours a day, including holidays and weekends. You can call whenever you need to.
Maple also offers 24/7 access to doctors. Their goal is to connect you with a licensed physician as quickly as possible, so their services work both on weekdays, weekends, and holidays.
Telehealth Ontario is only available over the phone. They are a direct phone line, and can’t be reached over text or video call.
On the other hand, with Maple you can choose how you want to communicate and interact with the doctor. You can decide if you want to text them, call them, or have a video consultation with them, it’s completely up to you.
Telehealth Ontario is available for anyone living in its eponymous province. If you’re not currently in Ontario, you won’t be able to access this service.
Meanwhile, Maple is a telehealth platform that works all through Canada. No matter what province you’re in, you can still have access to it.
Like we mentioned before, Telehealth Ontario is not qualified to give out diagnosis or medical prescriptions. If you’re in need of actual medical advice, Maple is a better choice. Not only you’ll talk to a doctor immediately, but you’ll have access to a prescription if needed.
What About Doctor Notes?
Again, Telehealth Ontario is not qualified to give out doctor notes, but Maple is. With Maple, the doctor’s signature and direct contact information are on the note, just in case that info is required. And you can use them both for work or school.
We have a full article about Maple where we explain what it is, how it works, how to sign up for it, how much it cost, and how it connects you to real-life Doctors that can diagnose you, give you prescriptions and even sick notes.
Here’s a table to help you compare these two services side by side:
|Connects you with Doctors||Yes||No, only with registered nurses.|
|Interface||Text chat, audio and video Calls.||Just regular calls.|
|Geography||Available everywhere in Canada.||Available in Ontario.|
|Price||Starts at $49||Free|
The main difference -aside from costs- is that Telehealth Ontario is limited to residents of its province’s namesake. Telehealth Ontario also works in a much more limited capacity, by assisting those who have health questions, giving advice on small medical issues, and/or redirecting people to higher-level care.
On the other hand, Maple is available to any Canadian (outside Quebec) that needs medical assistance. You can talk to a doctor, get a diagnosis along with a prescription, or even get a doctor’s note. All from the comfort and safety of your own home.
They are different services that provide different medical assistance, you can use one or the other depending on what you need. However, they are both similar in that neither should be used for an emergency.
Providing Assistance With COVID-19
Telehealth Ontario can assist you on what steps to take if you think you might have COVID-19. But, they do advise you to call 911 immediately if you are having severe symptoms.
That being said, they have a self-assessment test you can use to help you determine how to seek further care on your own. This should only be used if you have symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it. Remember that if you present COVID-19 symptoms you should call a medical professional or a health service. Don’t go out unnecessarily because you could infect more people by doing so.
So, Is Telehealth Ontario A Good Option?
To sum things up, it is. Telehealth Ontario is a great option for anyone who needs some degree of medical advice. This means it’s perfect for anyone who doesn’t know where to go or what specialist to see.
It shouldn’t be used during emergencies, and it won’t be the same as seeing a doctor (whether online or in real life), but it’s a step in the right direction to help you get the treatment you need, and it’s especially helpful during these times of pandemic (they have self-assessment tests for COVID-19).
However, if you are looking for a stronger, more complete telehealth service that works all over Canada, we strongly recommend Maple. Yes, you’ll have to pay for the visit (it starts at $49), but you’ll be able to connect with doctors in less than 2 minutes, get proper medical advice, and access to prescriptions and doctor’s note.