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Innovation & Job News

Akira Launches in Ontario

Last week, Ontario took a step towards digital health with the launch of Akira.

Akira is a mobile app for iOS and Android that was developed by Dustin Walper after his own brush with thyroid cancer left him frustrated and annoyed with the Canadian healthcare system.

After founding and building his previous startup MyPlanet for five years, he felt that this was something he had to do.

“As someone who was busy trying to build a business, anytime you have any kind of medical issue you just want to get it over with,” a task which Walper recalls wasn’t easy to do.

“That was the core frustration that I felt with the health care system.”

Akira costs $9.99 per month and launched officially on Wed., May 18. Walper’s goal with this service was to put a doctor in the pocket of every Canadian.

Several physicians have already signed up to take part in Akira’s mission, enabling them to digitally interact with patients who’ve downloaded the app whenever the patient requires.

While Akira has the potential to lessen the burden on the healthcare system by redirecting non-critical inquiries to a digital service, Walper stresses that in order for Akira to serve its purpose, it shouldn’t be used for medical issues that require a physical examination.

“There are some things that just weren’t appropriate for this kind of service,” he says.

He anticipates however, that this is what Canadian patients need – a fast, reliable way to have their immediate healthcare needs met.

In order to do that, Akira has partnered with another popular Canadian health startup, PopRX. Unlike Akira, PopRX specializes in digitizing the pharmaceutical industry by offering prescription delivery, renewal and inquiries all though an app.

“What’s really important for our type of model is that we want to make healthcare accessible and convenient to everyone,” said Walper. “A big part of that is prescriptions.

PopRx fonuder Dr. Ali Esmail stated that as soon as the platform began allowing for specialists (Akira only supports general practitioners at the moment and Esmail is an ear, nose and throat specialist), he would gladly consider joining the platform.

Esmail goes on to agree with Walper in saying that redirecting non-critical medical issues can potentially reduce the strain on Canada’s medical system.

A lot of those people show up in emergency rooms or wait for hours in walk-in clinics,” said Esmail.

Overall however, he believes that Akira and PopRx share one mission: to bring the benefits of telemedicine to Canadians.

“What PopRx and what Akira are trying to do is provide a much more convenient service.”  

Currently, Akira is not covered under OHIP, though several tech companies have begun offering Akira as part of their employee benefits packages.
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