Telemedicine helping ill patients across the north
About 50,000 people access the Ontario Telemedicine Network to receive care
More people are accessing cancer care in Sudbury without having to travel long distances to do so.
They're gaining access to critical health care through video teleconferencing, said Tamara Shewciw, the chief information officer with the North East Local Health Integration Network.
The video network connects cancer patients from rural and remote areas to doctors at Sudbury's Regional Cancer Centre.
"Before that, they said that they declined care, knowing that they would have to travel to Sudbury," she said.
"They just weren't up for that — knowing … the toll it takes on the travel and so on, so they declined care."
There are 261 telemedicine network sites in northeastern Ontario.
Options for mental health patients
Telemedicine is also opening up for mental health patients in the north, who will soon have access to psychiatric care without having to travel long distances.
The LHIN has launched a pilot project in Sault Ste. Marie that will use the Ontario Telemedicine Network.
Doctors will be able to send patients with mental illness to a telemedicine site where a trained nurse will record a video with the patient.
"Then that video will be sent to a psychiatrist, a psychiatrist that is taking part in this program," Shewciw said.
"The psychiatrist will be able to assess that patient and then get back to the family physician as to a care plan."
Shewciw said follow-up treatment will be done with either the family physician or with the psychiatrist.
If the project proves to be successful, it will expand across northern Ontario.
This past year, 50,000 people accessed medical care through the Ontario Telemedicine Network.