Imagine being able to speak with your doctor at the click of a button. Sounds far-fetched, right? Not anymore.
A pilot project with the stroke rehabilitation team at Providence Care Hospital (PCH) has stroke patients “going digital” for care conversations.
Using the Ontario Telemedicine Network’s (OTN) eVisit technology, patients are able to connect with care providers from the comfort of their home or from a local health care centre.
“eVisit uses two-way video conferencing and is designed to increase access to family doctors, specialists, and other health care providers,” said Chris MacLean, Project Manager with Providence Care.
Take Laurie Bolan for example. The 74-year-old had a stroke in August, and after spending a few weeks at Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s Kingston General Hospital (KGH) site, was transferred to PCH to continue her rehabilitation journey.
This involves having follow-up appointments with a Stroke Neurologist in the Stroke Prevention Clinic at KGH.
When approached by her care team to ask whether she was interested in participating in an eVisit, Bolan jumped at the opportunity.
On the day of her appointment, Bolan was able to speak with Stroke Neurologist Dr. Ramana Appireddy over the computer.
“The use of eVisit is a transformative change to the way we practice ambulatory health care,” said Appireddy.
“This is a huge step forward. Using eVisit we are able to meet the needs of patients wherever they are,” added Lori Kimmet, Inpatient Program Manager.
“It was just like FaceTime or WhatsApp,” laughed Bolan.
“And it allowed me to stay in the comfort of my room.”
And while the technology is considered a time-saving and convenient option for patients, the benefits are more far-reaching.
“Using eVisit has the potential to reduce interruptions to our patients’ ongoing stroke rehabilitation by limiting missed therapy sessions due to transfer and travel time, while facilitating timely access to important medical follow up appointments,” explained Dr. Benjamin Ritsma, Clinical Director of Stroke Rehabilitation at PCH.
“We see this as an opportunity to build upon the model of patient-centered care we have at Kingston Health Sciences Centre and Providence Care.”
And without the stress of arranging transportation and worrying that they will miss therapy, patients can focus on what matters – getting better.
“By bringing the care to the patient we are maximizing the amount of therapy the patient receives,” added MacLean.
“That’s why they’re here; to receive the care and therapy they need so that they can return home.”
Both MacLean and Ritsma agreed eVisit not only makes it easier for the patient, but also for family members who want to be a part of those important care conversations.
Bolan was joined by her husband and brother for her eVisit. When asked how the appointment went, Bolan said, “It was like I was there in person. It was fantastic.”
While the use of eVisit is still being piloted, the hope is to eventually expand the service to other patient populations at PCH.
“I’d recommend it to anybody,” said Bolan.