The North East Local Health Integration Network expects 30,000 trips to the doctor will be virtual online visits in 2012.
The health network is seeing an increase in the use of telemedine technology across Northeastern Ontario because it is such an effective tool to connect doctors and patients.
Colleen Harrison says her 10-month-old daughter Abigail burned her hand with a cup of tea. "I guess because of her age ... she didn't know enough to take her hand out of it so she was kind of standing there with her hand in this freshly boiled cup of tea. And I pretty much knew right away it wasn't going to be a nice burn." Doctors in North Bay recomended Harrison attend the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto but she was able to have the burn examined via a camera feed between North Bay and Toronto.
Laura Boston, senior project manager with the LHIN, says telemedicine is more than a simple video link.
"There's an electronic stethoscope for listening to live heart and breath sounds and an ENT light source for examining the ear, nose and mouth areas."
Boston says there are over 200 telemedicine locations in the Northeast.
While some clients have said they would like to use telemedicine from home rather than visit the hospital or local long term care home to access the service, Boston said that's still on the horizon. She says the long-term plan is to make telemedicine web-based so that patients can connect with medical services from home.