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Telehealth a Game Changer for Our Region?

Have you ever had to drive to Trail, Nelson or farther to see a physician specialist? Would you be interested in trying other options that  wouldn’t require you to travel? If the answer is yes, doctors would like to hear from you.

Kootenay Boundary residents who have seen specialists in the last two years are being asked to complete a short survey aimed at improving access to service in the future. The survey is part of the new ‘Telehealth’ project launched in January by the Shared Care initiative in partnership with local doctors (Kootenay Boundary Division of Family Practice), specialists and Interior Health. Telehealth focuses on increasing the use of technologies like video conferencing in health care.

"Rural patients requiring specialist care often require many hours of travel, sometimes on treacherous roads, to get the care they require,” said Dr. Kevin McKechnie, family physician in Nelson and co-lead of the project team. “We're hopeful that video conferencing will allow patients to access the care they need, without the usual burdens of cost, time, and hazardous travel."

The Telehealth project team is interested in understanding patient experiences in accessing physician specialist services. Questions in the survey include: which specialties were seen by the patient, the number of trips made, the types of expenses incurred  and more.

The project will pilot patient video conferencing appointments in up to five specialty areas in the coming year. The data from this survey will help to determine which specialties will be the focus for the project.

“We see options for Telehealth as a ‘game changer’ in terms of providing the best possible care for our patients throughout Kootenay Boundary,” said Dr. Shiraz Moola, obstetrician specialist in Nelson and part of the project team. “This survey gives patients the chance to be part of the process in creating a system that best supports their needs.”

You can pick up a copy of the survey at one of the participating family physician clinics (ask your local clinic). It can also be filled out online at: http://bit.ly/telehealthKB

The closing date for participation will be May 31, 2016.

For more information, contact:

Mona Mattei, project manager for Telehealth: Technology in Practice project at 250.443.1899.

BACKGROUND:

The Telehealth project is funded by Shared Care and is being implemented by the Kootenay Boundary Division of Family Practice in partnership with Interior Health. The Shared Care committee is a collaborative partnership of the B.C. Ministry of Health and Doctors of BC. Their goal is to improve patients’ health outcomes and their journey through the health care system by supporting family physicians and specialist physicians in working together.

ABOUT THE KOOTENAY BOUNDARY DIVISION OF FAMILY PRACTICE

The Kootenay Boundary Division of Family Practice represents doctors in 14 communities across the region including Castlegar, Christina Lake, Fruitvale, Grand Forks, Greenwood, Kaslo, Midway, Nakusp, Nelson, New Denver, Rock Creek, Rossland, Salmo, and Trail.

The Kootenay Boundary Division works to improve patient access to local primary care, increase local physicians’ influence on health care delivery and policy, and provide professional support for physicians. www.kbdivision.org

The Division of Family Practice initiative is funded by a joint committee of the BC Ministry of Health and Doctors of BC.

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