2021 saw an incredible increase in interest in vaccinations. Not just COVID19 vaccines, but vaccines of all types across the board. The vaccination conversation for better and worse has become much louder. As we’ve reignited the discussion for vaccine benefits – protecting oneself and their community against communicable and deadly diseases, we’ve also seen a shift in how people are looking for vaccinations.
The early part of this shift actually happened during the 2020 flu season – more demand for flu vaccines from patients looking to avoid flu complications during a COVID wave – and shortages of those vaccines due to the mismatch in supply. As a pilot with Immunize Canada we launched MyFluShot.ca as a way to allow vaccinators to provide transparency into their availability and supply, and for patients to find, join a waitlist, and book flu vaccines.
Based on this success we launched MyCovid19Vaccine.ca – as a dedicated service to allow Canadians to find and book available Covid Vaccinations – which saw incredible demand as the provincial governments rolled out vaccines to various cohorts of patients. It exposed the fact that nationally we as an industry can do a lot better in helping Canadian’s locate vaccinations, especially during times of high demand and limited supply. There were many attempts to address this inequity in our industry from government agencies to crowd sourced twitter feeds, but none of these were able to provide full transparency and visibility into all providers.
To help increase transparency and equity of vaccine delivery, we’ve evolved MyFluShot.ca and MyCovid19Vaccine.ca into simply MyVaccines.ca – a national vaccine locator for all vaccines. Our vision with this platform is to have vaccine availability and inventory data from all vaccinators across Canada, and to help all Canadian’s to find and book their next vaccination. This effort builds on the successful pilots and partnerships with organizations across the healthcare industry in Canada, and we need all vaccinators to use our easy to use tools to help us build on this vision.
On September 1st, 2021 EMPOWER Health launched MyVaccines.ca – a national locator with online appointment booking for all types of vaccines. The map-based directory allows users to search and book a vaccination appointment at any public health, pharmacy, primary care and mass vaccination clinic in their region.
For the public, it means improving healthcare navigation, vaccination access and delivery. During the COVID-19 pandemic we witnessed the lack of infrastructure to support wide-spread vaccinations. If someone wanted to book a COVID-19 vaccination, they would have to call multiple healthcare providers to be put on multiple locations waitlists. Oftentimes, having to follow-up on their appointments by calling providers directly. This was frustrating, stressful and time-consuming for both patients and healthcare professionals. Through MyVaccines.ca, anyone can search, join a waitlist, and book appointments when vaccines are available. Users can sign-up to join a vaccination waitlist for a specific location, group of locations, or a region, and be notified when any provider has vaccinations available.
For healthcare professionals, it’s the easiest and fastest way to let the community know what vaccines you have available – without picking up the phone. It will improve healthcare navigation of the whole system, thereby increasing effectiveness and efficiency across networks. MyVaccines.ca has advanced features like simplified vaccine inventory management, multi-dose scheduling, automatic email reminders and centralized wait lists that make managing vaccination appointments a breeze. It makes it easier for healthcare organization administrators to manage appointments as they don’t have to manually book or remove patients from waitlists who’ve gotten their vaccination somewhere else.
The vision with MyVaccines.ca is to have vaccine availability and inventory data from all vaccinators across Canada, and to help all Canadians find and book their next vaccination with ease. This is a coordinated effort by healthcare professionals, networks and the public to help us build on this vision and make it as easy as possible for patients to access and professionals to deliver quality care.
Healthcare disparities among Indigenous communities are no foreign concept in Canada—these outcomes are deeply rooted in the determinants of health that must be addressed in order to build an equitable health system.
“Equity” should not be confused with “equality.”
It is worth noting that equity and equality are two entirely different concepts. While equity tends to rely on the ideology of fairness, equality promotes impartiality. According to Health Quality Ontario, “Health equity allows people to reach their full health potential and receive high-quality care that is fair and appropriate to them and their needs, no matter where they live, what they have or who they are… a high-quality health system recognizes and respects social, cultural and linguistic differences”. By definition, health care equity is a “sub-set of health equity” in which a health system is able to effectively provide equitable health care (Health Quality Ontario, 2019).
Indigenous Mental Health in Canada
The alarming rates of poverty, unemployment, child apprehension, poor education, and public services are all contributing factors to the declining mental health of Indigenous peoples. These communities are challenged with a “disproportionate burden of disparity” that comes with low income and substandard living conditions (Richmond et al., 2016). In a recent report from Statistics Canada, mental health disparities between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in Canada have demonstrated to be directly linked to the intergenerational effects of residential schools, the forced relocation of communities and removal of children from families and communities, and mental health services gaps. The report also claims that the adverse mental health outcomes of the Indigenous have resulted from childhood adversity, trauma, discrimination, as well as social determinants of health such as unemployment, housing, poverty, and food security (Government of Canada, 2020).
Indigenous Mental Health and the Pandemic
According to Statistics Canada, 6 in 10 Indigenous participants report that their mental health has worsened since the onset of physical distancing (Arriagada et al., 2020). The COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified the mental health concerns of Indigenous communities as the inability to socialize in-person creates unfamiliar and stressful situations. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) also describes how factors such as geographical isolation, high levels of pre-existing health conditions and inadequate housing are associated with a higher risk of contracting or spreading the COVID-19 virus.
Understanding the Impact
A 2010 American research study indicates that patient race/ethnicity can influence physician interpretation of patients’ complaints and, ultimately, clinical decision making (Sorkin et al., 2010). Over time, these biases towards certain populations become rooted in healthcare systems and become significantly more difficult to eliminate. As such, it is crucial for healthcare institutions to prioritize Indigenous and other marginalized communities. In an era of healthcare transformation, moving towards a system that is equitable will help improve the quality of health services being provided and ultimately increase sustainability.
Bairavie Piravakaran (she/her) is a second-year undergraduate at the University of Toronto Scarborough. As a Psychological & Health Sciences student, she values the importance of sharing credible information and making health resources more accessible to the public. Her interests in population health, research, and design are also reflected in her non-academic pursuits—she currently volunteers with the Young Leaders of Public Health and Medicine (YLPHM) as a Social Media Manager for the Scarborough Chapter and is a Health Promotion & Analytics Member at Critical Health Innovations Lab (CHIL). At EMPOWER Health, Bairavie works closely with the Marketing Team in order to plan and execute strategies that help inform the public about current health-related topics.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a new superhero emerged… the COVID Conqueror.
The COVID Conqueror is on a mission to help their community navigate the pandemic. Pursued by the COVID-19 virus that won’t stop spreading, the COVID Conqueror … Motivated to help people, the COVID Conqueror is committed to working hard to better the lives of Canadians. From educating the public on COVID facts to working with community members, the COVID Conqueror does it all.
Rumor has it that the COVID Conqueror will be introduced during the next Avengers movie during Phase 4 of the Marvel Universe. Plot points likely to include Thanos returning from the multiverse to re-snap the snap, and the COVID Conqueror in a race against time to make them immune to both COVID-19 and the snap. Ryan Reynold is rumored to be interested in expanding his superhero personas to three, although Brad Pitt playing Dr. Faucci, playing the COVID Conqueror is not out of the question.
What ever happens, we’re excited to see the COVID Conqueror in action.
You too can be a COVID Conqueror! Maintain your social distance and book your vaccination!
Are you new to Canada and in need of healthcare coverage? You may be eligible for the Interim Federal Health Plan (IFHP).
iamsick.ca wants to break the structural and cultural barriers in healthcare that newcomers face in the first three months of living in Canada.
Learn more below to understand how the IFHP and iamsick.ca can help you.
What is the IFHP?
The Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) provides basic, short-term healthcare coverage and benefits to refugees and other specific groups who are ineligible for provincial and territorial health insurance plans, and who cannot make a claim with private health insurance. Eligible individuals are entitled to full coverage, which includes Basic, Supplemental and Prescription Drug Coverage. Most individuals are also eligible for the coverage of one Immigration Medical Exam.
The IFHP is provided by registered healthcare service providers (doctors, pharmacists, specialists, allied healthcare professionals, etc), where they are reimbursed for covered services. However, the IFHP cannot be used with benefits from other insurance plans or programs.
Medavie Blue Cross is a non-profit organization that is an industry leader in healthcare insurance and benefits for individuals and groups. It administers the IFHP benefits and services, and has a national database of IFHP providers.
iamsick.ca and the IFHP
Newcomers who do not have provincial or territorial health insurance plans can go to registered healthcare providers for coverage, under the IFHP. You can easily use the iamsick.ca website to see which nearby healthcare providers who accept IFHP. When searching for healthcare services, click on “Advanced Options” followed by “Only show providers with IFHP insurance options”. In addition to seeing which healthcare providers accept IFHP, you can also find which healthcare providers speak a specific language (over 80 languages). This new feature will help newcomers receive continuous primary care.
In the past, iamsick.ca has partnered with settlement agencies to help Syrian refugees find accessible healthcare. Today, iamsick.ca continues to further these partnerships with immigration and refugee services. The goal is to help more newcomers of all backgrounds access healthcare by finding community health centres that speak their language of choice. This empowers newcomers to seek out long-term, rather than episodic, healthcare.
To learn more about IFHP. Here is a FAQ for both Patients and Healthcare providers from the Government of Canada:
It’s that time in February again, when families come together to enjoy the long weekend away from work and school. It’s Family Day weekend! During this weekend, families should find different activities to spend quality time with one another, while being diligent with their health as flu season remains strong. Multiple studies have seen the correlation between quality family time and the mental health of children. So for this year’s Family Day, experience some fun & exciting activities with your family!
To help make your Family Day weekend as meaningful as it can be, while being diligent with your health, we’ve created a list of 5 fun activities to do. Here they are below!
1. Spend the weekend at a ski resort
What’s a better way to embrace the cold weather? Go skiing or snowboarding and enjoy the great outdoors! Since the weather remains cold, spend the weekend at a ski resort, such as Blue Mountain, to enjoy a weekend of hitting the slopes and seeing the natural beauty of Canada, while spending some quality time with the family. This small getaway is a great way for post-secondary students to start their Spring Break with their families.
While relishing in the fun and exciting activities at a ski resort, be sure to download the iamsick.ca app, which is available on Android, iOS, and Blackberry, before you and your family hit the slopes. For the Family Day long weekend, the iamsick.ca app will include holiday hours to keep you informed during the holidays. This app allows users to find the nearest pharmacy, family doctor, walk-in clinic, hospital, and other medical services at your own convenience. Sometimes our health gets the better of us at the most inconvenient of times. By downloading this app, you can enjoy your weekend at the ski resort while having the ease of knowing you can rely on this app to find the nearest healthcare option with just a few taps away.
Worried about the cost of a skiing? Don’t fret, because we have some cost saving ideas to spend a great time outdoors with your
family. Try cross-country skiing, hiking or tobogganing at your local park. These activities are cost efficient and allows your family to have a fantastic time enjoying the outdoors.
2. Play some board games with your family
Family games night? Recently, more and more people have turned to board games as a way to bond with friends and families, while unwinding from the pressing presence of technology within our lives. Many have found that it’s a great way to bring families together to enjoy the light competition and the company of others. Some students have found that playing board games is a great way to relieve stress and escape, which is great for students who need small breaks to reduce stress during midterm and exam seasons. So spend some quality time with your family this Family Day weekend by playing board games with each other, while being away from the temptations of the internet and social media.
3. Visit your local art gallery or museum
During the family day weekend, many cities across Canada have organized activities for the public to enjoy with their family. So take your children to visit the different kinds of activities available, such as the local science centre and museum, or go skating at your local rink. There are many different events and activities available that would spark the multiple interests of children, as there are a number of events happening outdoors and indoors. By participating in the different activities at your local city, you get to see what events your children enjoyed while getting to spend time with them. Check out a list of some family events across Canadian cities this weekend at this website;
Try new hobbies and sports with your family is a great way to spend some quality time, while having fun with one another. Go skiing or snowboarding, if you have never gone before, or go skating. Trying new activities with your children creates a joyful environment that encourages them to take risks and try new opportunities, which is essential to build their confidence and learn new skills that may be important in the future.
5. Get the flu shot and then go see a movie with your family
With this year’s flu season near the end of its height, families should still be aware and take preventive methods to combat this flu virus during the family day weekend. So make taking the flu shot a family activity and then go see a movie together afterwards! Spending the day together allows for some quality time, while being proactive in combating the flu! Don’t forget that the iamsick app shows nearby clinics or doctors that offer flu shots. Also, use the app to book appointments at your own convenience at the nearest clinic or doctor of your choice, while holiday hours are updated regularly on the app.
Happy Family Day! I hope that this list of fun activities helps you and your family have a fantastic long weekend, while being proactive about your health!
A: The Posture Performance Shirt is a global patent-pending garment that reduces stress off certain muscles like the neck and shoulder muscles that may be overly stressed due to prolonged static, undesired posture.
Q: What makes the Posture Performance Shirt different than other posture-correcting apparel on the market?
A: What differentiates the Posture Performance Shirt from other posture shirts or posture braces in the market is the adjustability of the elastic reflex bands on the shirt. You can set the tension of the bands per your comfort to provide a gentle stretch to your neck and shoulder muscles, therefore relieving pain and stress.
Q: How does it work?
A: The Posture Performance Shirt provides proprioceptive feedback to the user, which reminds them to retract their shoulders in the upright posture with the help of the elastic reflex bands that provide muscle memory for when the bands are not strapped on.
Q: Your brand ambassadors are Team Canada Olympians. How do they use the Posture Performance Shirt?
A: Paul Poirier and Piper Gilles represent Canada on world stage competitions including the Olympics and they use the Posture Performance Shirt when executing a lift or simply maintaining proper posture when skating.
Q: You have a new production line coming out in August. What can we look forward to?
A: The new production line is out and it includes a V-neck and we have released a new color which is white. We will also be expanding into new products which include Posture Sports Bras, tank tops, sleeveless and long sleeve shirts.
Could your posture use some improvement? It’s not too late to enter to win your own Posture Performance Shirt. Click here to enter.
Hurry! The giveaway closes on August 17th at 11:59 PM (EDT).
Tell us what you do to maintain good posture on Twitter with the #iamfit and #BeTheGreatest hashtags. We will retweet some of our favourites on our own account @iamsick_ca.
iamsick.ca will be attending the Ontario Accessibility Innovation Showcase 2015 in MaRS this weekend, hosted by the Government of Ontario. Held in time for the Para Pan Am Games, the event will showcase accessible technology and devices created by Ontario companies.
There are many activities planned for the weekend, including a hackathon and walking tours. iamsick.ca will be demoing our website & apps on the exhibition floor. Our co-founder and president, Ryan, will also be pitching at the Tech Pitch competition.
Accessibility & iamsick.ca
Our goal is to offer a healthcare wayfinding & e-booking platform that helps all Canadians access healthcare, tearing down the barriers that a Canadian patient or caregiver may face.
The iamsick.ca platform already addresses a number of barriers, and we have more solutions in the works.
So far, the iamsick.ca platform addresses:
Access to Knowledge & Information
Timely Access to Healthcare Services
Our platform was also designed with insights gained from user experience design & healthcare literacy experts.
Want to learn more? Check out our entry video below:
The Showcase is free and open to the public. Stop by our booth to check out our recent developments. We look forward to seeing you there!
The Posture Performance Shirt was created to help wearers improve their posture and performance. It has been designed to relieve stress off certain muscles groups by keeping the wearer in an upright position. The adjustable elastic straps help wearers passively stretch without the risk of weakening their muscles.
If you have ever felt strain on your back while sitting, or just want to improve your posture, this shirt is for you. Don’t take our word for it – even Olympians are using the shirt to help them train!
The summer weather is finally starting to arrive! It’s a great time to get outside, get active and start hitting those summer fitness goals that you’ve been putting off. It’s also time for us to step away from our laptops to celebrate the upcoming launch of the redesigned iamsick.ca website. So, we’re giving away a FitBit Zip to one lucky winner!
With only a few weeks left until Canada Day, our co-Founder, Ryan, will be wearing his own FitBit every day to track his distance. If you can guess how far he will travel (in kilometres) between June 10th and Canada Day, you could win your very own FitBit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker. (Trust us, you want it. It’s pink.)
With a FitBit Zip, you can track your steps, your distance and your calories burned. Plus, you can challenge your friends! It syncs wirelessly to your smartphone or computer to show you your fitness trends. This little device is sweat, rain and splash proof to withstand the elements.
If you’ve already answered the contest question, don’t forget that there are six more ways to get bonus entries. You can find more details and official rules in the Terms & Conditions section of the contest widget (link below).
Giveaway closes at 11:59 PM (EDT) on June 30, 2015. Only open to residents of Canada.
We would love to hear your summer health and fitness goals. Share what you’re doing to keep fit with the #iamfit hashtag on Twitter. We will retweet some of our favourites on our own page, @iamsick_ca!