Not long after their days spent in the yellow-bricked halls, did good friends David Del Balso ’13 and Matthew Mazzuca ’12, both proud St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) alumni, team up in an effort to advance modern online health care.
“Matt and I both went to different universities but connected near the end of university to build what is now known as Insig Health,” says Del Balso, who earned a commerce and computer science degree from Queen’s University. “We both ended up joining the Next36 programme, one of the leading entrepreneur incubators in Canada. The programme is focused on providing access to the tools, funding, and network to become a successful entrepreneur in Canada and make a difference.”
Through Insig Health, they built a software platform and supporting tools for telemedicine clinics to offer their services online.
“Most of the users are medical practitioners, doctors who run a typical brick-and-mortar clinic. They are looking at expanding their practice to offer virtual care,” says Del Balso. “We offer the ability for video chat, phone consultations, and secure messaging supported with an online portal featuring an electronic triage form, digital booking, reminders, charting, and more.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic taxing the country’s medical system, many doctors and medical professionals are forced to look for alternate ways to offer support.
“We are seeing a lot of doctors closing their doors and many are reaching out, looking to continue offering their services online and maintain connectivity with their patients,” says Del Balso.
Using their own Insig platform and technology, together Del Balso and Mazzuca created their own telemedicine clinic in 2018.
“Tia Health, our own virtual clinic, has over 150 doctors serving patients across Canada,” says Del Balso.
“Healthcare in Canada is very fragmented right now,” explains Mazzucca, a University of Toronto graduate with a biomedical engineering degree. “Tia Health allows us the ability to get the top doctors, make our connections, and bring people the care they need --- some of whom don’t have family doctors and others who may not be able to get to one.”
As the pandemic worsens across Canada, certain provinces have decided to, for the foreseeable future, open medical coverage to include telehealth and virtual care.
“The Ontario government has agreed to open up its OHIP coverage to include our services, previously you had to pay for it,” says Mazzucca. “Doing so allowed many more patients to get the answers and support they needed during this critical time. It also propelled the industry forward and gave it credibility from a government standpoint.”
Alberta and Quebec also joined Ontario by offering the temporary expansion in medical coverage.
“Each month we are serving tens of thousands of Canadians through Tia Health and a multiple of that through the Insig platform,” says Del Balso. “These are people who otherwise cannot access their physicians.”
“Right now, there is an obvious immediate need for virtual care, but going forward this really has always been our vision – provide a way for Canadians to see a doctor from the comfort of their home – it’s a lot more efficient and a lot safer,” he says. “Everything we have been working for is now being put toward a good purpose, when it is needed most.”
The growth of their work helped them secure a strategic partnership with WELL Health along with a $6 million investment. WELL Health is known for having one of the largest medical record systems in Canada, in addition to its own clinic network group. The deal will allow Insig the ability to scale its technology rapidly across Canada.
As is tradition, the SMCS alumni network has followed closely alongside the journey of both Del Balso and Mazzuca, long after their high school days.
“Our time at St. Michael’s really pushed us to realize our potential and be the best version of ourselves,” says Del Balso. “The importance St. Michael’s placed on expanding your horizons and being multi-faceted was very helpful in being able to adapt and thrive in an entrepreneurial environment.”
Mazzuca echoes the sentiments of his business partner.
“The school really prepared us to be flexible and juggle multiple priorities. Our work ethic today can certainly be traced to our time at St. Michael’s.”