Is Akira legal?
Yes! Medical advice by phone, email, text, or video is an uninsured service in Ontario - this means that it is okay to charge for this service, otherwise there would be no way to offer it! Under the Canada Health Act, every province decides for itself which services it considers to be “medically necessary”.
Medically necessary services are listed in each province’s schedule of benefits (Ontario’s is available here). Any services not listed in the schedule of benefits are considered uninsured. This is why, for example, hospital visits are typically covered but visits to the dentist are not.
This varies by province - our current pricing model is appropriate for Ontario, but may be different in other provinces as we grow.
Are Akira doctors Canadian?
Yes! Akira exclusively staffs board-certified Canadian doctors trained in delivering virtual care. Currently, all of our doctors work out of our Toronto office to deliver the highest possible quality of care.
Is Akira covered by OHIP?
At this time, no. OHIP currently does not reimburse doctors or nurse practitioners for video or text consultations. A single consult + 48 hours of unlimited access for follow-up questions is $49+HST. Unlimited memberships are available for as low as $10/month for individuals or $20/month for families on an annual plan.
Does Akira replace my family doctor?
No, Akira is not a replacement for your family doctor. If you provide consent, we will keep your family doctor up-to-date on any changes to your health as you use Akira.
What is a Nurse Practitioner? Why am I speaking to a nurse and not a doctor?
A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is a nurse with an advanced university education and additional clinical experience - they can work independently, or in partnership with other health professionals.
NPs trained in Primary Health Care can diagnose and treat a broad range of conditions. They can prescribe medications, order tests, and refer to specialists as appropriate. On Akira, NPs practice independently from doctors in order to provide greater accessibility - if you’re speaking to one, rest assured that you are in good hands!
While you may speak to a doctor if you prefer, NPs are an important part of our care team and can provide equivalent care for a wide variety of common concerns.
What should I not use Akira for?
Akira should not be used for emergencies - in an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department. Akira should not be used as your most responsible physician for chronic disease, cancer or other complex care conditions - we can help, but don’t replace your primary care doctor and specialists.
Akira doctors do not prescribe narcotics or controlled substances. We also cannot complete disability, insurance claims or WSIB forms.
Are my health records secure?
All patient data is encrypted and stored in Canada. Only you, your doctor and medical staff directly involved in your care can access your medical records.
Can I use Akira for my children?
Yes! More information on our family plans is available here.
What mobile devices does Akira support?
Akira is currently available for Android 4.4 and above, and iOS 9+ for iPhone 5 and above. A web-based version is coming soon.
Can I use Akira when I'm out of the country?
Yes! Wherever you have internet, you can use Akira - but only if your travel is temporary and you're still a resident of Canada.
Why is it called Akira?
Akira is a Japanese name meaning "bright" or "intelligent". We're working on artificial intelligence systems that will, in the near future, make Akira the world's smartest medical assistant.
How is Akira different from Telehealth Ontario?
Telehealth Ontario is staffed by Registered Nurses, not Doctors or Nurse Practitioners, and is a triage service only. As it states on the Telehealth Ontario website, “Telehealth Ontario nurses will not diagnose your illness or give you medicine”. In contrast, Akira is staffed by Doctors and Nurse Practitioners who can diagnose and prescribe as appropriate.
How are Akira’s Doctors and Nurse Practitioners paid if they can’t bill OHIP?
Doctors and NPs are paid a daily stipend for providing uninsured services through Akira. Their compensation is fixed and does not depend on how many patients they see. This stands in stark contrast to walk-in clinics, where doctors are paid per visit. Akira’s doctors and nurse practitioners have no incentive to rush patients out the door, and can provide more intensive counselling when needed.
What guidelines are Akira’s Doctors and Nurse Practitioners required to follow?
Our Doctors and Nurse Practitioners follow a number of guidelines from their professional bodies. Some notable guidelines include: The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) Telemedicine Policy, The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) Telepractice Guideline, and The Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) Principles of Assistance on Practicing Telehealth.
Isn’t Akira a private company? Is that allowed?
It may be surprising to learn that the private sector already plays a critical role in Canadian healthcare. Most healthcare services in Canada are provided by for-profit or non-profit organizations, not directly by the government (for example, the University Health Network in Toronto is one of Canada’s largest non-profits).
Canada operates on a single-payer system, meaning that provincial insurance plans set rates and pay for insured services. Most primary care clinics, for example, operate as private businesses where doctors provide services as contractors. Those doctors then bill the provincial health insurance program for the services they provide.
Technology has become a critical part of the foundation of healthcare, and this implies an increasingly important role for entrepreneurship in the Canadian healthcare system.