Frequently Asked Questions
What is Sparrow Health?
Sparrow Health is a medical technology service designed to help doctors enhance how they can manage their offices and provide services to their patients. We want to help patients and doctors save them time, our most precious resource!
What can Sparrow Health do for me?
We offer the ability for physicians to be able to provide services for their patients conveniently. Currently, we can help with the provision of services that are not covered by Ontario’s Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). These are services such as medication renewals without an appointment, sick notes, notes for physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractor therapy, orthotics, and many more services that doctors provide. But we are working daily on being able to provide even more features and value that can help patients better manage their health, so please stay tuned as we’re sure you’ll benefit!
What are uninsured services provided by physicians?
While we are grateful as Canadians, we continue to enjoy essential health care benefits from the ministry. Uninsured services are services that are not (or no longer) covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). OHIP was designed to cover basic health needs and, unfortunately, does not covers added services that physicians can provide and patients value. There are many services that you may request from your Family Doctor that are not considered medically necessary by Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) and are therefore not paid by OHIP. For example, a prescription renewal without an appointment is not a service covered under OHIP.
My doctor didn't charge me for this before; why a change now?
With the increasing patient demand for these non-OHIP-covered services, offices have been unable to sustain their provision. Every time one of these requests is made, administrative duties are performed, and physicians must check the patient’s chart to review the patient’s: last appointment, last blood pressure, weight, bloodwork, and take the appropriate time to make safe and thoughtful decisions about someone’s health care needs. Physicians and their staff spend many hours a day providing these services, which means time away from seeing patients (which increases their wait times) or time away from their own families in completing these requests.
These services, such as insurance forms, legal letters, sick notes, etc., are called “non-insured or uninsured services.” Your family doctor will charge for uninsured services in accordance with the fees guidelines set by the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO).
Is there a way to get reimbursed for these medical expenses?
Yes! Because these are services provided by medical practitioners, it means that these are eligible medical expenses that you can claim on your income taxes. Please see the following link at Canada Revenue Agency (https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/topics/about-your-tax-return/tax-return/completing-a-tax-return/deductions-credits-expenses/lines-33099-33199-eligible-medical-expenses-you-claim-on-your-tax-return.html#hw_clm )or talk with you accounting professional for more advice on this. You’ll be able to conveniently print or save the information you need each year through our platform to help you with that.
What if I do not use a computer?
We appreciate that not everyone has access to a computer. The program was developed for everyone to be able to access it. So you can call your physician’s office to make a request over the phone, or you can even stop by the office to rendezvous with the office receptionists who would be happy to process your requests for you in person.
(**Please follow local guidelines regarding the Covid-19 pandemic if coming into the office**)
What does the membership plan offer? Am I locked into the program?
If you become a member with your doctor through Sparrow Health, it allows you to make requests without paying at the time of the request for your services. This is like insurance that covers you during your membership period. You can unsubscribe at any time, which means the services will no longer be covered at the end of the subscription term.
Can I get a refund if I sign up as a member?
Refunds on subscriptions are offered up to 60 days after activation or renewal of the subscription. Please note that if you received any uninsured services during this period and subsequently canceled your subscription, you will be refunded (or charged) for the difference for such services.
Will I be covered if I'm a member, but I see a physician other than my family doctor?
In cases where a doctor is working in the same office as your doctors, sharing the practice or covering, you will still be covered. But if you’re seeking these services from a physician outside of your family doctor’s office, your membership plan with your family doctor with Sparrow Health will not cover their services.
What is the turn-around time for a General Request?
Please allow for a standard 7-day turn-around time for your request. If this amount of time has passed and you have not received an update on the status of your request, please get in touch with your doctors to review the status of your request.
What is the turn-around time for an Express Request?
We aim to have your doctors review these requests in a 1 to 2 day turn-around time. Sometimes doctors are working outside of the office or maybe out of the office for other reasons, so the urgent timeline can’t be accommodated. In such instances, a refund for the express fee will be provided.
Whom can I contact with questions about using the platform, requesting services, finding receipts, or other concerns?
You are welcome to speak with one of your physician’s staff, and they can help you navigate your online portal or with any invoice or service concerns.
Whom can I contact with technical issues with the website or platform?
How do I make a request?
Once you’re connected with your profile, you can make the requests allowed by your physician listed on your “Dashboard” page.
How do I know when my physician has reviewed my request?
You can check the status of your request in real-time by reviewing your “My Requests” page on your profile. The status will be one of either: Pending, Approve or Decline. You’ll get an email to confirm your request was processed, and you will also receive an email to confirm the updated status of your request. Although most requests are approved, if you don’t have email or computer access, your doctor’s staff will reach out to notify you of the reason why. Once your physician processes your request, they will update the Sparrow Health system with a notification letting you know if it’s been approved or denied.
Why would a request be denied?
It is to the doctor’s discretion what requests are approved and denied. If you have a rejected request, there is a valid reason behind the decision and one that you’ll be able to see by checking on your “My Request” page. We suggest following up with your family doctor’s office if you’d like to follow up with this request and arrange for an appointment to discuss it further.
What forms of payment are accepted?
Only credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, etc.) are currently being accepted to process requests via Sparrow Health online. We soon hope to offer other payment options. If you do not have a credit card, please reach out to your physician’s office for alternative payment methods.
How do I pay?
When making a request online, you will be prompted to make a payment at checkout. Similarly, if you make a request over the phone or in person, one of your physician’s staff members can help process your payment and your request(s).
How much do services cost?
Prices may vary widely from one office to another and from one physician to another. We suggest you sign in to your dashboard or call your physician’s office to learn the service prices for your physician. Your family doctor will charge for services in accordance with the fees guidelines set by the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO).
How do I decide if I should pay for the membership or pay as I go?
We recommend reviewing your physician’s fee list and considering how often you and your significant other or family members would require these services. A subscription can cover many services offered online, but even others through your doctor’s office that aren’t available yet on this platform, and even help prevent unexpected expenses. Meanwhile, the pay-per-service can add up, and we find that many patients can save by opting for the membership option.
Can unused credits be saved from month to month?
Yes, they do get added up month to month. All unused credits accumulate and are available for later use. Credits do expire if the subscription is canceled.
What if I prefer not to pay for these requests?
These are uninsured services and not covered by OHIP, so, unfortunately, payment must be provided to have these services. If you would like to get your medications renewed, you can book a follow-up with your physician, as medication renewals are covered with a visit by OHIP. (*Medical notes & other forms will still have a charge for completion*)
Can my insurance provider cover my requests made through Sparrow Health? (e.g., Manulife, CanadaLife, Bluecross, etc.)
Since all insurance providers are different and often change their provisions, please get in touch with your insurance provider to inquire if they may offer coverage for these uninsured services or subscription options (commonly referred to as block fees).
What are the coverage options for uninsured services?
Physicians offer a monthly or an annual fee (sometimes called a “block fee”) program where patients may pay a fee to be covered for their uninsured medical services. If a patient does not wish to pay this, they can opt to pay for the services as they are rendered.
Will Sparrow Health provide a receipt for services rendered?
Yes, a receipt is provided, which can be downloaded (PDF file) or printed from the “My Transactions” page on the Sparrow Health website. You may be eligible to claim these expenses come tax time so please ask your accountant if this applies to you.
What if I have financial difficulties?
We encourage patients to speak with their physicians directly in case there are financial difficulties, and compassionate exceptions are at your physician’s discretion.
What happens when my request is declined? Would I get a Refund?
Yes, a partial refund is provided when your doctor declines a service requested. A restocking fee remains in order to cover the associated transaction and platform-related costs.
Can I request a Refund after a service has been provided?
No refunds are available after a service has been provided.
What if the pharmacy sends fax for my refills?
The pharmacy will no longer be faxing your physician’s office for medication renewals. You can either make your request through Sparrow Health, or you can do so by contacting your doctor’s office to make a request and have it processed on the same day over the phone or in person.
Multiple medications needing renewals, does this mean multiple payments/charges?
No, if you have a request sent for your medication, you can have them all listed as a single (1) request. This means whether you need 1 medication or 5 medications, there is no difference in cost for a single request as long as they are all made on the same request.
Where do I pick up my medication once the request is approved?
You pick up your medications at your preferred pharmacy that you provided on your Sparrow profile. (Your Preferred pharmacy can be changed in your profile settings)
What if I use blister packs?
Request all your medications filled on a single (1) request through Sparrow Health. The pharmacy creates the blister packs, so the new process for medication refills remains the same regardless of if you use blister packs or not.
Can my Pharmacist Provide an extension on my medications?
Although pharmacists can extend medications, it is often something that requires more health information that is often not easily available to a community pharmacist. Most pharmacists will feel they can only safely provide medication extension for a limited time and not do so on controlled substances/medications. The fees associated with these extensions from the pharmacist are often similar to what your physician can provide.
How will the use of Sparrow Health affect my pharmacist?
Pharmacists and their staff spend many resources faxing and reconciling prescription renewals for their patients, often without compensation. Many miscommunications, phone tags, failed faxes, and patients not getting updates have led to many issues when processing these requests for our mutual patients. We’re now empowering our mutual patients to be part of the team to ensure seamless and efficient care.
What safeguards does Sparrow have to protect my personal health data from others?
What safeguards does Sparrow have to protect my credit card data from others?
Sparrow Health is developed with the highest standards to protect your private information. Like most online retailers, no financial information is stored with us as it is protected by large financial technology companies that help ensure the security of this information.