Improving Options and Access

By Jamie Bussin

I recently had the pleasure of co-hosting the George On Call podcast (available on Spotify, Apple and Google Play). George On Call is about modern healthcare and is the brainchild of frequent TheTonic Talk Show guest George Barakat. George is the CEO and directing mind of Medworks, a healthcare technology company. He has over 30 years of experience working with the largest retailers in the world to provide better access to healthcare services. In the first three podcasts we discussed what George has learned about healthcare both pre and post-pandemic, the healthcare issues that face Canadians and the solutions that he’s currently working on at Medworks to improve access to healthcare. 

George views healthcare through a holistic perspective with the goal of helping Canadians to shift their concept of healthcare from being reactive to proactive; to not think of healthcare as its own dichotomy but rather incorporating ancillary services and wellness services into the mix. He envisions that when Canadians think of healthcare, that might also include, for example, making plans to go to the gym and meeting a personal trainer or meeting with a dietician to create a meal plan. There’s a fundamental interconnectedness to aspects of our health: how we eat, exercise, sleep and even socialize.

George cares deeply about the health of Canadians. He sees the critical issue as the quality of life as we age. Referencing the recent experience of Covid-19, he postulates; “When you look at healthcare and what we’ve just gone through in the pandemic, we can all attest to the fact that our healthcare system was ill equipped to handle a global pandemic. Roll the clock forward 10 years, 1/3 of the population is going to be older than 65. That’s going to make the pandemic look like a cakewalk. There aren’t going to be enough beds. There aren’t going to be enough main and ancillary healthcare service providers. We don’t need to replace the existing system. But we do need to complement it and augment it.”

The barrier to Canadians conceiving healthcare as a lifestyle decision is a lack of access and convenience. In his world you could pre-schedule your annual physicals and a visit to the lab to have metrics measured, pre-schedule massages for oneself and family, arrange for outpatient care and monitor for a grandparent, and have all those services automatically added to a digital calendar.

We live in a healthcare environment where we are told how we can consume healthcare. The inflexibility of the system was exposed during the pandemic when access to healthcare was restricted. George, as the director of a company which operated healthcare clinics in Canada and Mexico experienced the challenges firsthand. Specifically the pivot from a retail clinic format to a digital health format. Out of that necessity driven by the pandemic, George believes that a new way to provide healthcare to Canadians, digital health, was advanced 10 years forward. 

“There will always be a place for brick and mortar medical clinics. The pandemic showed us that there is a ton of stuff that you can do with the right technology, connecting to ancillary service providers, through a digital, telemedicine or telephone experience to provide in-home healthcare. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can by leveraging technology, for example, hook up a series of remote patient monitoring tools so that a loved one can remain at home rather than going to a long term care facility. Depending on the nature of one’s condition, this could result in significant savings. We can make in-home healthcare a lot more open and available so that consumers can choose.”

George’s vision isn’t about moving to private medicine, it’s about wrapping our arms around existing services that are already out there promoting themselves and putting it in one place. This concept is reflected in Medworks: a patent pending application, that takes the SAS learnings from an existing model we all know (ie. Ubereats, SkipTheDishes etc.) which combines shopping cart technology, scheduling and geofencing. You put your address into the address bar in the app and healthcare and wellness services appear that are in your region and can be delivered to your home or device. George explains the practicalities of the app; “Let’s say someone in your house isn’t feeling well. You could have a paramedic at your door. You could schedule a mental health appointment on your device or in your home. Physical therapy, massage therapy, personal training…the app will make it available.”

The shift from reactive to proactive medicine has to be both economical and compelling; meaning convenient. The Medworks app includes a healthcare coordination function where associates in the “Maddy department” can schedule appointments for the family and put them in a calendar on your device. The benefit isn’t just to the individual. It’s easy to see how the whole healthcare system, which is under strain, benefits: When one chooses to have a paramedic attend in the home rather than go to a hospital emergency room for a relatively minor matter, there are fewer patients to treat. That would allow doctors to see more serious cases and achieve better and more timely outcomes. There is no new premium as community-based paramedics already exist. Having someone come to your door to treat you in 30-60 minutes rather than wait hours in a hospital emergency room is certainly compelling.

According to George’s research, the most important healthcare issue for Canadians is aging gracefully, which is particularly germane given that our population is rapidly aging. He thinks that the way forward is to incorporate better lifestyle choices (otherwise known as proactive healthcare) through more options. The culmination of the Medworks technology is its ability to allow Canadians to do just that. “Aging needs to become a lifestyle”.

Jamie Bussin is the Publisher of TheTonic Magazine and Host of TheTonic Talk Show/Podcast. 

For more information about Medworks visit