Sun Life has launched a three-month pilot project to test virtual independent medical exams, recognizing that when people are facing a mental-health issue, it can be challenging to schedule an in-person appointment and find the right care.

In addition, the pilot was meant to mitigate the problems of wait times to see a mental-health professional, as well as the potential lack of adequate professionals in a given area.

Through the project, plan members are directed to a professional who they can seek care from virtually. Depending on the condition, this could be a psychologist, neuropsychologist or psychiatrist.

Read: Editorial: Navigating perceived gap between online, in-person health care

The preliminary results of the project, which ends in June, found people suffering with mental-health issues have found the process helpful and easy to use, says Marie-Chantal Côté, vice-president of market development for group benefits at Sun Life.

“Basically, what we wanted to know is what do individuals think of it. And the individuals suffering from mental-health conditions have been very happy with this service and very comfortable. And that first thing we were trying to solve, not having to leave the home if you were not feeling well . . . that’s something that significantly hit the mark.”

For the project, Sun Life partnered with Montreal-based health-care management company Equinoxe LifeCare, using its EQ Care system.

“Within 30 days of us making a referral to EQ Care, the individual is set up in terms of the tools that they need, they’re seen by a professional, virtually of course, and the results are provided, so all of this within 30 days,” says Côté.

Read: Digital health startups partner to improve virtual health-care access

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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