Growing use of Telehealth service in Cypress Health Region

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
Growing use of Telehealth service in Cypress Health Region

The Cypress Health Region is the second highest user of the Telehealth service in Saskatchewan.

Telehealth is a provincial program that makes it possible for health care providers to use interactive video conferencing technology for clinical appointments, consultations, follow-ups, meetings and continuing education.
Cypress Health CEO Beth Vachon spoke about the success of Telehealth in the health region during a Cypress Regional Health Authority board meeting, April 13.
“For a region that’s considered rural and remote, Telehealth is really a way that we can reach out and ensure that people are doing less travelling than what they might need to only access services,” she said.
The Cypress Health Region has seen an increase of 87.6 per cent in clinical appointments through Telehealth since 2013. During the 2015-16 fiscal year the health region has provided 816 clinical appointments through Telehealth.
“So for one of the smallest [health] regions in the province we are the second highest user of Telehealth services,” she said.
The Telehealth services are available at health facilities across the Cypress Health Region.
“We actually made an investment a number of years ago and we’re probably one of the best wired regions in the province,” she said. “We have the ability to use Telehealth in every single facility.”
A variety of specialists use Telehealth for clinical appointments and consultations with patients. For example, a surgeon can do a consultation with a patient after an operation by using the high density camera technology that is available through Telehealth.
“One of the reasons why Telehealth is so important is that people have access to health care providers at a distance,” she said. “Initially we did use it a lot for training and we still use it for training, but it’s been really valuable. As people become more comfortable with technology, we’re finding that people are using it more and more.”
In many cases these specialist are located in larger urban centres such as Regina or Saskatoon. A clinical appointment through Telehealth means that a patient does not need to drive a long distance for a brief consultation.
“We had been using it in previous years, but every single year that we use it, it just grows,” Vachon said. “It’s that comfort level of the physicians, clinicians, staff in the rural facilities being comfortable with the technology and I think the more that patients use it, they see the value that this is not sub optimal care.”
Mental health professionals in Cypress Health Region have used Telehealth to present a program on parenting for anxious children. The program is presented during four evening sessions that parents can attend from a facility elsewhere in the health region.
“The value of Telehealth is that they can go to their local facility where we have Telehealth or the closest one to them if they happen to live on a farm or in a small community that doesn’t have a health facility,” she said. “They can interact, they can ask questions. So that’s just an amazing ability for people to be able to access what would once have been seen as a specialized service.”
In other instances the mental health professionals in the health region will use Telehealth for consultations with people.
“That is one that really lends itself well because it really is a talk based assessment,” she said.
The intention is not that the use of Telehealth will replace face to face consultations, but to provide an alternative means when it is a suitable option. An added benefit is that it can save travel time, often during winter time, for patients as well as health professionals.
“Telehealth technology has been very well utilized in northern Saskatchewan and we have many communities that are as remote from a central location as some of our communities in the north,” she said. “It just makes sense for a rural remote community to use this technology. So I’m really proud of the fact that we’re the second highest user in the province of all health regions.”

via SW Sask News – Prairie Post – Prairie Post

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