Katie Heckman, virtual care team lead for information management and technology
Lauren MacDougall, senior communications and public engagement advisor
More than 20 years ago, the Nova Scotia Telehealth Network (NSTN) was introduced into health care as the first program of its kind to use videoconferencing technology to deliver remote patient care.
With advancements in technology, Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) and the IWK Health Centre (IWK) are making investments in exploring innovative e-health solutions, beyond traditional telehealth, to enhance the delivery of remote patient care. To better represent all potential technologies that support health care from a distance, the NSTN is now called Virtual Care Services (VCS).
As a part of the discovery of new e-health solutions, NSHA’s information management and technology virtual care team piloted a new web-based technology to virtually connect patients to their health care provider.
This work supports the virtual care team’s mission to “leverage technology, skills and knowledge to support delivery of person-centered virtual health services through innovation and integration” to achieve NSHA’s vision of Healthy People, Healthy Communities – For Generations.
Patients and health care providers from NSHA’s cancer care division, along with mental health and addictions programs at both NSHA and the IWK, have participated in the pilot.
Patients downloaded the pilot’s e-health application to their personal cell phones, computers or tablets, which connected them to their provider, who had also downloaded the technology. This enabled patients to receive care from any location that had a secure Wi-Fi connection.
Patients that participated in the pilot generally expressed a high degree of satisfaction with their virtual visits, with 87 per cent either strongly agreeing or agreeing with the statement that “Overall, I was satisfied with my virtual visit.” From the perspective of the health care provider, 96 per cent indicated that the virtual visit helped accomplish the intended purpose of the appointment.
“The use of this type of technology will help to transform access to health care in our province,” Dr. Gerald Gray said. “I see it as a very positive, innovative tool. It’s a real change agent to the delivery of care in Nova Scotia.”
With the success of this pilot, the virtual care team is exploring options to integrate this type of technology into service delivery to enhance access to care, better leverage resources and facilitate a seamless patient experience.
NSHA and the IWK are committed to providing innovative, quality, remote health care solutions to patients and families now and into the future.
For more information, please contact NSHA’s virtual care team at firstname.lastname@example.org.