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Alberta adds 14 projects to telehealth network

EDMONTON – Fourteen new telehealth projects will give Albertans living in rural and remote areas better access to health care services without having to travel great distances.

Over the next 18 months, the Alberta government will provide more than $2.4 million in new funding for the projects through the Telehealth Clinical Grant Program. The funded projects include management of intravenous chemotherapy, pediatric surgery consultation, asthma and allergy education, telemental health outreach services, and care for HIV patients.

“These new projects will enable more people to remain in their communities to receive treatment services,” said Dave Hancock, Minister of Health and Wellness. “This funding expands the already diverse range of health care services that can be provided to residents in rural and remote locations.”

Through the use of videoconferencing technology and specialized medical equipment, telehealth enables direct medical consultation without the need to have health professionals and patients in the same place. Among the many benefits of telehealth are:

• Convenient, confidential and secure access to distant clinical specialist expertise and care, particularly for residents living in rural and remote areas.

• Improved clinical and education support for health care professionals in their own community.

Alberta has one of the largest and best integrated telehealth networks in North America, with more than 500 telehealth sites across the province serving thousands of Albertans.

The Telehealth Clinical Grant Program will invest in projects in the Chinook, Peace Country, East Central, Calgary, David Thompson, Capital, Aspen and the Northern Lights health regions, as well as the Alberta Mental Health Board and the Alberta Cancer Board.

Telehealth Clinical Grant Program Recipients

Alberta Cancer Board ($580,393)

Virtual Pain and Symptom Control/ Radiotherapy Clinic
This project will offer patients access to pain and symptom control and radiotherapy consultation services through a telehealth link to the Cross Cancer Institute’s Department of Symptom Control and Palliative Care, and the Department of Radiation Oncology. The Alberta Cancer Board is working with Peace Country Regional Health Authority and Aspen Regional Health Authority on this project.

Real-time Pharmacist Verification of Intravenous Chemotherapy preparation in the Alberta Community Cancer Center Network of Telepharmacy
The Alberta Cancer Board Telepharmacy Project allows pharmacists to communicate face-to-face in real time with a pharmacy technician to prepare intravenous chemotherapy. The pharmacist at a central pharmacy site verifies intravenous chemotherapy prepared by a pharmacy technician at a community cancer centre, thereby eliminating travel for the patient. This procedure can be used in a number of situations when a local pharmacist is unavailable and will allow the community cancer centres to deploy more advanced chemotherapy treatments. The Alberta Cancer Board is working with Aspen Regional Health Authority, Peace Country Regional Health Authority and David Thompson Health Region.

Patient Centred Education Initiative
This project expands on current distance patient education programs through videoconferencing and digital communication such as Internet and CD/DVD. The Alberta Cancer Board is working with Northern Lights Regional Health Authority, Peace Country Regional Health Authority and Aspen Regional Health Authority on this project.

Alberta Mental Health Board ($129,994)

Operational Stress Clinic Telemental Health Outreach
This pilot project will provide specialized mental health services to rural veterans, members of the Canadian Forces, eligible members of the RCMP, and their families living in southern Alberta who have limited or no access to operational stress injury treatment.

Calgary Health Region ($399,181)

Calgary Health Region Making Community Connections – CHR Rural
The Making Community Connections project is an 18-month program that will increase the use of clinical telehealth in 12 rural communities by fully integrating processes and technology into the current model of care.

Improving Access for Paediatric Surgical Preparation, A Family-Centred Approach
This program will use videoconferencing technology to allow families to participate in preoperative preparation sessions at the Alberta Children’s Hospital without needing to travel to Calgary. The project will also test the use of videoconference technology for a paediatric preoperative assessment clinic. Information will also be posted on the Alberta Children’s Hospital website to help families prepare their child for surgery. Calgary Health Region is working with Chinook Regional Health Authority on this project.

Capital Health ($703,380)

Minimal Invasive Surgery TeleMentoring
The Minimal Invasive Surgery TeleMentoring project will provide surgical management mentoring for surgeons at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Grande Prairie. Capital Health is working with Peace Country Regional Health Authority on this project.

Pediatric TeleSurgery
The Pediatric TeleSurgery project will enhance services to pediatric patients (infants, children and youth) who require specialized surgical care. The project will also allow health professionals to participate in clinical rounds and other educational sessions. Capital Health is working with Peace Country Regional Health Authority, East Central Regional Health Authority, Northern Lights Regional Health Authority and Aspen Regional Health Authority on this project.

TeleInfectious Disease
The Northern Alberta HIV Program is a province-wide program providing comprehensive care and antiretroviral therapy to HIV-infected individuals in northern Alberta. The TeleInfectious Disease project will provide access to specialized services offered by the Northern Alberta HIV program. Capital Health is working with David Thompson Regional Health Authority, East Central Regional Health Authority, Northern Lights Regional Health Authority and Aspen Regional Health Authority on this project.

TeleWomen’s Health – Perinatology, Endocrinology and Fertility
The TeleWomen’s Health project will provide high-risk perinatal, fertility and endocrinology services to remote and rural patients. The program will offer patient consultations, followup assessments, education for patients, families, health care providers and training to rural physicians. Capital Health is working with East Central Regional Health Authority, Northern Lights Regional Health Authority and Aspen Regional Health Authority on this project.

David Thompson Health Region ($630,138)

Neuropsychology Consultations for Inpatient Brain Injury Rehabilitation Clients
This initiative will use telehealth technology to allow the Halvar Jonson Centre for Brain Injury to access neuropsychologists in Edmonton and Calgary and deliver the brain injury curriculum to various sites throughout the country.

Enhancing Care for Frail Elderly Persons in Rural Alberta through use of Telehealth Technology.
Specialists will provide daily clinical consultations by telehealth to physicians and multidisciplinary teams caring for frail elderly patients in rural acute care facilities.

An Innovative Approach to Provide Asthma and Allergy Education for Teenage Students and Teachers in Rural Central Alberta by Telehealth
This program will educate teenage students and teachers in rural communities about asthma and allergies and emergency treatment for anaphylaxis.

Pediatric Tele-Rehabilitation Consultation and Follow-up to Rural Patients
Accessibility is an issue for pediatric rehabilitation therapy and consultation for students in eastern and southeastern areas of the David Thompson Health Region due to the significant distances involved in delivering this service. This project will increase access for students in these areas of the region through the use of video conferencing technology.