Lumeca to expand health care app to Sask. First Nations after successful starting point in Cowessess

Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme (left) and Lumeca Health Founder Shawn Hazen (right) met through Swinging with the Stars. Lumeca and SaskTel partnered to make the app accessible for members of Cowessess as a pilot project before expanding to all First Nations in Saskatchewan. (Lumeca Health/Submitted)

Lumeca Health is hoping to improve access to licensed doctors and nurses in Saskatchewan First Nations.

Lumeca is an app connecting patients to health care professionals through text, phone or video. It’s free for the province’s residents with a valid Saskatchewan health card, providing COVID-19 screening and general health care consultations.

The Regina-based company partnered with SaskTel to make the app more accessible for members of southern Saskatchewan’s Cowessess First Nation starting in October of 2019.

But, according to Lumeca’s VP Marketing and Communications Tyson Liske, they hope to expand it to all First Nations across the province and potentially beyond.

Liske said Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme is an advocate for not just his own community, but all First Nations.

“We wanted to pioneer and pilot it with Cowessess first, show how it changes access, how it helps people, and then we would look at expanding to all First Nations,” he said.

“We see the need for virtual health care as really for everyone irregardless of demographic or geography.”

Residents are able to download and sign up for Lumeca by connecting to the band office’s Smart WiFi—what Liske described as “almost a drive through WiFi.”

Delorme said he’s noticed a difference in Cowessess residents accessing health care.

“It’s important our community members have the support and resources to take care of their health when they need it. Being able to access a doctor immediately for treatable conditions, from the comfort of our homes on reserve will really impact the quality of life for the Cowessess people as well better exercise our treaty right to health,” he said.

Additionally, as Liske explained, residents are able to use the SaskTel-powered WiFi for more than just their health. Throughout the pandemic, they’ve always been using it for remote education.

Liske said the founder of Lumeca, Shawn Hazen, is currently meeting with other groups to see how they can expand to other First Nations.

“SaskTel understands that broadband connectivity (high-speed internet access) has become a truly powerful tool in the modern world, especially in rural areas where everything, including healthcare, can be dependent on that connection,” added SaskTel VP of Business Sales and Solutions, David Ekstrand.

Hazen and Delorme initially met through Swinging with the Stars, a fundraiser for Hope’s Home. From there, the pair wanted to work together to find innovative ways to empower people to take health care into their own hands.

“(We) are now developing new ways for patients to see their own family doctors, and for family physicians to reach their patients as continuity of care is vital to healthcare outcomes,” said Hazen.

Liske said the company is also making Lumeca more accessible for those who don’t have a computer or smart device. Even if you’re not familiar with technology, he said the app is simple and secure to use.

Lumeca is available on the app store for iPhone or iPad or Google Play for Android.