Technology making up for distance in providing health care in North
2019-01-04 from northernnews.ca
Advancements in technology have enhanced access to health services for patients in the North East region, according to the North East Local Health Integration Network.
The North East LHIN covers more than 565,000 square kilometres. Planning and delivering care across this vast expanse can be a challenge but technology is bridging the gap and bringing care closer to home.
“Technology plays a key role in being able to quickly connect people to the care they need, as close to where they live as possible,” said Jeremy Stevenson, chief executive officer of the North East LHIN. “Technology and health care need to go hand-in-hand and the North East LHIN continues to work with partners across the region to increase the use of digital health.”
Some recent digital health advancements across Northeastern Ontario, North East LHIN region include Connecting with care through Telemedicine and eConsult.
The North East LHIN region is one of the province’s highest users of Telemedicine, via the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN). The latter uses two-way videoconferencing technology to connect patients with clinical health care delivered remotely by providers across Ontario. The North East LHIN had the highest use of the network in the province this past year with 117,000 hosted clinical events.
eConsult also helps patients to access care regardless of location by enabling physicians and nurse practitioners to communicate with specialists across Ontario via a private and secure webpage.
A referring provider can ask a specialist questions about their patient and receive advice quickly and securely without the need for the patient to visit the specialist directly. The North East LHIN had over 4,700 consults sent this past year, making it one of the largest users of the system.
Another way technology is being used is to help patients manage chronic conditions through virtual care.
Telehomecare is a virtual care program that uses remote monitoring equipment to support patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder or Chronic Heart Failure. Patients are connected with a North East LHIN nurse who monitors their health and provides regular health coaching sessions. Patients gain confidence and learn to take control of their health while staying at home. The North East LHIN has the highest amount of patients served via Telehomecarewith 539 patients this past year alone.
Statistics show approximately an 80% decrease in Emergency Department visits by patients using the program and a reduction of hospital admissions of almost 78%, according to the North East LHIN.
Advanced technology has also helped connect 24 hospitals with ONE.
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