Putting your health in your hands

In your life you may visit a doctor, hospital, clinic, specialist, dentist, or other medical provider countless times. You may also visit these providers in several different cities or countries throughout your life. From laboratory results to medical and immunization records, you may see hundreds of documents about your medical status and history. Yet where can you access all of these various reports? Can you recall your results from years past? These are just some of the questions that Toronto-based startup Dot Health is getting to the bottom of. 

Largely today, Canadians do not have easy access to their health information all in one place. Dot Health is making this possible across Canada through their free online and mobile platform, which launched in 2017.“Today if you wanted to access your health information, you’d go into a hospital or clinic and you’d have to pay for your records,” said Brigitte Dreger, Head of Partnerships at Dot Health. “Many people can’t afford to pay for their health information, which to me is a big driver of why I work for this company.”

To access health information, users download the Dot Health application on iOS or Android, or can access it from the Dot Health website, and they can request their records from the various health care providers they’ve visited. Once the providers release that data, you can access it all in one place.

Whether you’re managing multiple prescriptions that you’re trying to keep track of and keep your doctor in the loop about, a parent wanting to keep track of your family’s immunization records, or you simply want to have your health in your hands, anyone and everyone can access and benefit from the Dot Health application.

So where does London come in to this story about a Toronto startup developing a national platform?

A Test Ground for InnovationRecently, Dot Health launched an official collaboration with Shoppers Drug Mart but only at Shoppers locations right here in London, Ontario. You may have heard the news locally from Dot Health’s Business Development Lead Bryan Chang on CJBK or CBC Radio.

This collaboration allows Londoner’s to request their pharmacy records from any Shoppers Drug Mart location in the city, with records being kept up-to-date, giving users real-time access to that data. The collaboration will be piloted for several months before it’s rolled out across Ontario and Canada.

Dot Health is starting this idea here in London for a number of reasons.

“We spent a lot of time researching various Ontario cities before deciding on London and ultimately landed here because of its diverse and vibrant population, and the advanced health integration we’re seeing,” said Dreger.

In terms of how London hospitals and health care providers share health data between each other, Dreger says Dot Health found London to be quite advanced versus other Canadian cities. The company also recognized London had a strong focus on patient-centred care that they didn’t see in other markets.Dot Health was looking for a city that is representative of other ecosystems across Canada that they hope to expand into in the future. With diverse demographics across age groups, culture, and industries, London serves as an ideal test market city for the company. In addition, with students being one of the company’s key audiences, choosing a city like London with large institutions like Western University and Fanshawe College allows Dot Health to reach those users directly.

“The value proposition for Dot Health is different depending on who you’re talking to. Students typically move away and sometimes end up having this four-year gap in their health records if they aren’t able to make it back to their same family doctor,” said Dreger. “Younger people are becoming more proactive about their health and want to link these pieces of information together.”

Founding StoryThe growing Dot Health team in their Toronto office.

Huda Idrees, Founder and CEO of Dot Health, was working for another startup she co-founded when she developed the idea for Dot Health. Her friend’s father, who was going through chemotherapy at the time, wanted a way to be able to pull all of his health information together from every specialist he was seeing. Frustrated there was no way for him to do that, Idrees built a digital application so he could compile all of his data in one place.

This was the real turning point for Idrees. As she looked further into Ontario’s health care system, she wondered why this problem hadn’t been addressed yet.

“When the Internet just got started everyone made this prediction that health care would be the first industry that would be disrupted because there’s so much value there, and that wasn’t the case,” said Dreger. “It’s lagged even behind finance which is a highly regulated industry, one that’s quite difficult to innovate within.”

Looking at the problem with a bottom-up approach, Idrees took inspiration from her digital application to build a solution – Dot Health. Now with 14 team members, the company has doubled in size in a year and is taking on the challenge of navigating the digital health landscape head-first to make it easier for users like you to navigate and access information from.

Future-Focused

The launch of the Shoppers collaboration is just the beginning for Dot Health. As they work to show the value of the collaboration across the region, they then want to focus on building and growing other collaborations, as well as investing in marketing. To date, all of Dot Health’s user growth has been due to word-of-mouth, but they expect once more people discover the platform, Dot Health will be able to accelerate their growth across Canada. Next stop after that: the world.“Dot Health believes patients should be demanding access to their information. We are currently comfortable with our doctor’s having much of our information, but if we think about every other industry, they wouldn’t survive that way,” shared Dreger. “If you wanted to know what your bank statement was and had to go in, pay, and wait two weeks for them to mail a copy of your statement, you wouldn’t bank with them. So why do we allow this in the health care industry?”

If you’re interested in learning more about Dot Health or inquiring about potential collaborations, please contact:

Brigitte Dreger, Head of Partnerships at Dot Health
brigitte@dothealth.ca
(647)-678-0746

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