Virtual Care

Virtual care is a strategic direction that is foundational to advancing regional transformation initiatives within the LHIN Improving the Patient Care Experience. Three virtual care initiatives are eConsult, Telemedicine, and Telehomecare.


eConsult

An eConsult enables requesting clinicians (family physicians and nurse practitioners) to engage in a secure, electronic dialogue with specialist to manage patient care, without the need for a face to face visit.  The Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) has assessed the eConsult flow of care and determined that it provides an opportunity to improve efficiency, enhance patient care, expand access to specialists, and provide a clear audit trail of the specialist’s advice for the suggested care of the patient.

The goal of eConsult is to reduce patients wait times for specialist care and to improve the patient’s overall experience.  The average response time for eConsult across all regions is 3 days.

For more information on eConsult, please visit OntarioMD’s Provincial eConsult Initiative webpage.


Telemedicine

The telemedicine helps Ontarians get more out of the health care system by bridging the distance of time and geography to bring more patients the care they need, where and when they need it. Using innovative technology, telemedicine stream­lines the health care process, while also expanding the way knowledge is shared and how members of the medical community interact with each other and with their patients. It helps improve access to medical services that often would not be available consistently in distant rural communities and can save lives in critical care and emergency situations.  

Keewaytinook Okimakanak Telemedicine (KOTM) delivers clinical, educational and administrative services via videoconferencing and advanced information communica­tion technologies to First Nation communities in Ontario. The use of Telemedicine OTN and KOTM is widespread in our region with most agencies using the services for clinical, educational and administrative events.

For more information, please consult this brochure for more details.


Telehomecare 

Telehomecare, a component of Telemedicine, is used within our region to provide care for patients with Conges­tive Heart Failure (CHF) and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Telehomecare is an innovative approach to improving access to services and health outcomes for patients with chronic conditions. Significant efforts are underway to expand the use of telehomecare in our region as a method to reduce distance barriers and improve access to care.

Community paramedicine and telehomecare programs provide services for a similar patient group: high users of the health system who are living with chronic conditions, and learning to self-manage at home. An opportunity was identified to collaborate among the programs and to reduce duplication of services for this patient group.

As of January, 2017, the shared-care partnership is being piloted in the City of Thunder Bay, and expanded in phases to the remaining District of Thunder Bay sub-region. The shared-care partnership involves:

  • Enhanced communication and established care pathways that will result in providing an optimal mix of either or both services according to the patient’s needs.
  • Mutual benefit, whereas community paramedics will provide on-the-ground information, and telehomecare nurses will provide clinical expertise and self-management training for the patient.
  • Cost savings to the telehomecare program by using the community paramedic resources to deliver and install equipment in the patient’s home.


For more information, please consult this brochure or visit OTN’s Telehomecare Centre website for more details.