Telehealth Service Access Continues to Rise

Patient-focused enhancements to Telehealth services have a positive impact

A growing number of healthcare organizations, including the Cypress Health Region, are using Telehealth videoconferencing technology to increase access to care for their patients, reduce costs and wait times, improve patient outcomes, and enhance the overall patient experience.

Telehealth is a program that delivers health care services and education via secure, live, and interactive video, audio, and computer technology. Using secure video conferencing equipment, Telehealth enables patients to access confidential clinical services, education, public health, and administrative services in communities across the province.

“We’re continuing to see significant growth to Telehealth services and our patients are utilizing many specialties,” commented Carolyn Hildebrand, Education Service Bureau Coordinator for Cypress Health. “Telehealth provides such a positive impact to the patients who choose to use it and provides access to specialists across the country. It leads to safer, smoother treatment processes and better outcomes.”

Over the past 12 months, Telehealth was utilized 1,415 times by patients of the health region, an increase of 35% from the previous year. Using Telehealth technologies has saved nearly six million kilometers of travel for patients in the province while creating quicker access to providers through the elimination of long distance travel. Telehealth is available in all 12 health regions, in more than 369 sites in 134 communities, thanks to a collaborative effort between eHealth Saskatchewan, Regional Health Authorities, Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, First Nation Inuit Branch, and other health care partners.

Erin Wiebe is a Cypress Health Region patient who uses Telehealth regularly for oncology appointments. “Telehealth is so convenient and saves me money and time from needing to travel to Regina, especially in the winter when you’re at least two hours away,” she stated. “It’s convenient for both my physician and myself. The Region sets up all of my Telehealth appointments which makes it so easy for me.”

Oncology is the most frequently accessed Telehealth service in the Cypress Health Region. More than 750 oncology sessions were held via Telehealth last year, making the region one of the most frequent users of the technology in Saskatchewan.

During an oncology conference in May 2017 the Cypress Health Region was recognized for their exceptional, patient-focused enhancements to Telehealth services at the Southwest Integrated Healthcare Facility (SIHF) in Maple Creek. Completed in 2014, the SIHF is one of the province’s most technologically advanced health facilities and features many Telehealth endpoints, some of which are located directly in treatment rooms.

Heather Choquette, Provincial Manager of Community Oncology Services with the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, recognized the SIHFs enhancements to Telehealth services. The recognition was a result of recent changes at the facility which now provide the option for a patient’s physician or nurse practitioner to attend Telehealth appointments with specialists in a different location. The option was recently utilized successfully by Nurse Practitioner Erin Roberts and patient Marian Bakken.

For more information on Telehealth and how to access Telehealth services please visit the Cypress Health Region website at https://cypresshealth.ca/programs-services/telehealth/ or call 306-778-5444.

On May 26, 2017 Nurse Practitioner Erin Roberts (left) joins patient Marian Bakken (middle) and Ashley Nash, Administration Assistant, following a Telehealth session at the Southwest Integrated Healthcare Facility in Maple Creek, SK.