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Home care

Heart Institute connects with patients at home

OTTAWA – A $160,000 contribution from CareConnect, an Ontario telehealth agency, is bringing follow-up care to the homes of Ottawa Heart Institute patients.

The funding will provide 40 patients with the tools required to transmit weight, vital signs, and an electrocardiogram, to a nurse at the Heart Institute. The nurse reviews the information, which is automatically deposited into a data base, on a daily basis and contacts the patient as needed by videophone. The equipment provided to Telehome Care patients includes a home unit for transmission of vital signs, daily weight, ECG, and INR (measuring blood coagulation) through a phone line housed at the Heart Institute.

Funding from the Richard Ivey Foundation and the Change Foundation allowed the Heart Institute to trial telehome monitoring with 249 Heart Institute heart failure and angina patients from 2000 to 2002. Participants were monitored for three months and followed for one year after being discharged from hospital and included residents from Arnprior, Brockville, Cornwall, Maxville, Pembroke, Perth, White Lake and Ottawa.

Patients found the tele-link to experts comforting and easy to use and the ability to do so from their home convenient. “This type of innovation, merging technology to enhance follow-up with patients, is another first in Canada. Our patients like it, it reduces the rate of readmission, saves money and it improves our bed capacity,” said Dr. Robert Roberts (pictured at left), president and chief executive officer of the Heart Institute. “I’m sure other hospitals in Canada will be investigating Telehome Care for their patients.”

CareConnect is the telemedicine network that connects 27 partners on 45 sites throughout East and South East Ontario. Its goal is to provide care closer to home and improve access for patients in our region.

The Heart Institute program is CareConnect’s first step in assisting its partners to provide tele-homecare services across the entire continuum of care. Other tele-homecare projects are being explored in the areas of community care and palliative care. “This is a good news story,” says Kathryn Crone, CareConnect’s executive director. “One of our key roles is to find new and innovative ways for our partners to deliver care and this program is an excellent example of bringing that care closer to home.”

The University of Ottawa Heart Institute is a leader in the fight against heart disease and Canada’s only complete cardiac centre, encompassing prevention, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, research and education.