By Pat Rediger

 

Shawn Hazen has an eye for opportunity. At the ripe old age of 22, he started Haztech in 2006 as a single paramedic service in Regina that quickly reached new heights in the health and safety industry. Haztech now operates throughout North America with a fleet of specialized medical, safety, security and rescue units.

Almost four years ago Hazen identified another opportunity. The company was finding it difficult to staff remote locations with healthcare professionals, and often turned to Facetiming or texting professionals for their input. That’s when Hazen realized that at a virtual healthcare app could provide the services they required. Thisgave birth to his next idea: Lumeca.

Lumeca provides virtual healthcare for people and businesses that require access to licensed doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals by web, phone or mobile app. The app captured the attention of Tyson Liske, who became so convinced of its applications that he became the company’s vice-president of sales and marketing. “My daughter who was eight at the time had a cold and we took her to our GP (general practitioner). She diagnosed her and provided her with a prescription. The next day I was looking at Lumeca and decided to test it out and I gave them the same information that we had given to the GP. The icing on the cake was that the Lumeca doctor diagnosed my daughter with the exact same thing our family GP had diagnosed her and prescribed her the same medication. For me, that’s when things really changed. There is an opportunity to really change the way healthcare is delivered and radically reduce wait times.”

For example, if your child wakes up sick in the middle of the night, what are you going to do? Medical clinics are closed so the only option is to take the child to the emergency room at the local hospital— even if it’s a non-life threatening issue.

Liske said that Lumeca offers a better option. You simply have to log in to the app and within two minutes you are receiving assistance from a nurse clinician. From a bedside manner perspective, the healthcare professional on the app can take the time to provide the care and compassion that a lot of patients are seeking.

Lumeca also has implications for wait times. “About 80 per cent of people can be treated virtually,” explained Liske. “A lot of the things a person would walk into a medi-centre or ER for can likely be treated in a virtual capacity. That gives the remaining 20 per cent a quicker time to access and have more actual facetime with a physician.”

If the patient takes a turn for the worse, then Lumeca can help make the handoff between its physician and the patient’s GP. Once the patient provides his or her permission, then the continuity of care continues between healthcare professionals. Patient reports and charts can then be forwarded from the Lumeca doctor to the GP and the next stage of treatment can begin.

Although most people are familiar with the bricks-and-mortar approach to healthcare, Liske said that as the adoption of mobile technology increases, there is a less resistance to this new approach. He relates to his own experience—the ability to avoid the ER—as one of the driving reasons for people trying the new system. That’s only going to increase as mobile technology continues to change the way we live our lives.

On the other side of the equation, Liske said that healthcare professionals are also interested in joining the company. Since Lumeca was birthed from a health and safety company, it has existing relationships with physicians, nurses and specialists throughout Canada.

“Now we can tell them that there is a new way to work,” said Liske. “Physicians love it; nurses love it. They’re able to maintain a continuity of care and have their own patients reach out to them. We have an amazing arsenal of physicians and we have new applications every day. The quality of life it provides for our healthcare professionals is phenomenal.”

Although word-of-mouth has advanced the company’s profile, Liske said that there have been several other factors that have helped develop the company. It was able to join the Conexus Credit Union incubator program called Cultivator, which helps companies launch, growth and scale innovative startups in the province. The company was also a finalist in Pitch@Palace, an international pitching competition that helps entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses connect with investors, mentors and community leaders.

Lumeca has partnered with the Saskatchewan Roughriders to become their official virtual healthcare provider. They are working closely with Riders staff and players to promote the app including defensive lineman Zack Evans who has been discussing the impact of the app on his life as a player and father.

Lumeca is looking at incorporating mental health as part of the Canadian Red Cross programming. “We are exploring the idea of psychological first aid,” said Liske. “If someone is in crisis, the Red Cross does a great job of boots on the ground—taking care of people’s physical needs, getting them food and water, and whatever other needs they might have. We want to be able to partner so they can offer Lumeca’s psychologists when they need help right now.”

Liske said Lumeca also has implications for First Nations since many are located in remote or hard-to-reach locations and driving a long distance to access medical facilities is not practical. The app could be the answer for these people and remove that barrier.

At this stage of the company’s development, it has more than two dozen healthcare professionals and 13 full-time staff. More professionals are being added on a regular basis and the company has assembled an advisory committee to review healthcare specialities to review the most effective measures to utilize the app.

Current clients are a mixture of businesses and individuals. On the personal side, there are couples and families who subscribe to the service, and on business side, there are companies that are offering it as a benefit to their employees.

Lumeca also started the Lumeca Loves Foundation, which provides funding to people to better access healthcare services. The company has supported the Children’s Wish Foundation, Hope’s Home and other local organizations. “We don’t want Lumeca just for business, but for literally everyone who believes in better access to the best healthcare.”

Liske said that Saskatchewan is a great place to operate a business because the community spirit that exists. People know one another and have open doors to conduct business. There is a willingness to help one another overcome challenges and further business goals.

In the future, Liske said Lumeca will be looking at new partnerships. It is working closely with Economic Development Regina and the University of Regina on providing healthcare services for the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Centre for Excellence. It is onboarding more physicians and increasing their presence in other countries.

“Doctors are overworked, patients have trouble getting the care they need, and governments have a very big challenge ahead to tackle these health care challenges. Lumeca is a great way to complement the existing system and radically reduce those wait times.”