Telehealth in Newfoundland exceeds
ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. –
Efforts to connect patients from remote communities to specialists far
away have resulted in 8,601 virtual consultations in the past five
years, exceeding projections by 6,743 consultations.
Since 2005, Telehealth has greatly increased access to specialized and
critical healthcare services for residents across Newfoundland and
Labrador. The technology allows patients to consult with specialists
in distant locations without leaving their communities - saving
time, money and increasing access to much needed care.
“Telehealth has become an essential element for many physicians and
healthcare providers throughout our province,” said Jerome Kennedy,
Minister of Health and Community Services. “Considering the vast
geography of our province, implementing technology such as Telehealth
closes the gaps created by distance and offers sustainable access to
healthcare for patients in rural areas of the province.”
Focusing on chronic diseases prevalent in Newfoundland and Labrador and
related medical specialties, including oncology, nephrology, diabetes,
and mental health, Telehealth delivers substantial benefits to residents
across the province, particularly those in rural areas. Telehealth
reduces the time, cost and strain of travel on patients, families and
clinicians. It improves the capacity and continuity of healthcare
delivery and reduces professional isolation by providing healthcare
providers greater access to consulting opportunities.
“Telehealth is a clear example of how technology can improve access to
quality healthcare in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as areas
where recruitment of specialists has been challenging,” said Mike Barron
(pictured), CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health
Information. “We are extremely pleased with the success achieved through
Telehealth to date.”
The Telehealth project began in 2005 as a joint initiative between
several partners, including the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador,
Canada Health Infoway (which is funded by the federal
government), Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information and
the Regional Health Authorities. To date, the provincial government and
Canada Health Infoway have invested more than $2.7 and $2.9 million
respectively in Telehealth infrastructure, equipment and project
“Infoway is proud to support the development of a Telehealth network in
Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Richard Alvarez, President and CEO of
Canada Health Infoway. “Telehealth services are opening up new pathways
to treatment for patients, resulting in savings for the health system,
less travel for patients and most crucially, better access to timely,
relevant healthcare.” Furthering its commitment to enhance the quality
of programs and services in the healthcare system, the provincial
government will sustain Telehealth as part the annual budgeting process.
Since its inception, Telehealth has advanced remarkably with an expanded
infrastructure and tremendous growth in usage, including:
• 8,601 total consults, exceeding the initial overall project adoption
target of 1,858 consults;
• 123 healthcare providers are engaged in the Telehealth delivery
process, almost double the original project target of 65.
• Patient consults have increased from 66 per month in 2005 to 482
consults per month.
• In addition to patient consultations, healthcare professionals from
different communities used Telehealth to discuss the diagnosis and
treatment of 1,162 patients between April 2007 and December 2009.
• There are more than 50 functional Telehealth locations throughout the
province, all with equipment less than two years old.
• The iScheduler application, which provides a common shared system for
scheduling consultations and managing Telehealth resources, is available
across all Telehealth sites.
• A recently-completed Telehealth benefits evaluation showed that 79 per
cent of providers and 81 per cent of patients surveyed agreed that
“Telehealth has made it easier for my patients/me to obtain an
appointment with the specialist or other provider at the provider site”.
“Many of our oncologists have been using the Telehealth system for some
time and we are seeing increased use in other programs including mental
health and dialysis,” said Vickie Kaminski, President and CEO of Eastern
Health. “The benefit of this technology is tremendous. Our patients
benefit from more timely access to care closer to where they live, while
our physicians can spend more time on their clinical responsibilities
rather than travelling to different areas of the province. We’re
extremely pleased to have this service available.”
“The Telehealth program is an integral component in helping Central
Health achieve its strategic directions for Chronic Disease Management
and access to specialists. This has become a transparent way of
providing ‘face to face’ consultations to obtain specialized services
closer to home while at the same time reducing travel time for
specialists throughout our huge geographic region,” said Rosemarie
Goodyear, Senior Vice-President Quality, Planning and Priorities of
“Every day we see examples of the real impact this technology has on the
lives of our clients,” said Boyd Rowe, CEO of Labrador-Grenfell Health.
“Telehealth utilization continues to grow in our region and, with each
new lifesaving success story, we continue to appreciate this initiative
as one positive solution to overcoming our challenging geography.”
“We have witnessed real growth in the number of patients who have been
able to participate in the Telehealth program in our region”, said Dr.
Susan Gillam, CEO of Western Health. “This has been a tremendous benefit
to helping reduce the burden of illness on the patients and clients that
we serve, especially those in the more rural areas of our province.”
The proven success of Telehealth illustrates the potential it holds for
healthcare in the province. With the continued commitment of the
provincial government, the Centre for Health Information and the
Regional Health Authorities, Telehealth will grow to deliver additional
benefits in chronic disease management and other critical areas, such as
Posted May 6, 2010