More than 20 years ago the Nova Scotia Telehealth Network (NSTN) was introduced into health care as the first of its kind to use videoconferencing technology to deliver remote patient care. With advancements in technology, Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) and the IWK Health Centre (IWK) are making investments to allow for the exploration of innovative, e-health solutions, beyond traditional facility-based video conferencing technologies, to enhance the delivery of remote patient care. To better represent all potential technologies that support health care from a distance, the NSTN has been rebranded to Virtual Care Services.
As a part of the discovery of new e-Health solutions, NSHA’s Information Management & Technology (IM/IT) Virtual Care team piloted a web-based technology to virtually connect patients to their health care provider (HCP). This work supports the Virtual Care team’s mission to leverage technology, skills and knowledge to support delivery of person-centered virtual health services through innovation and integration to achieve NSHA’s vision of Healthy people, healthy communities – for generations.
The use of this type of technology will help to transform access to health care in our province…I just see it as a very positive, innovative tool. It’s a real change agent to the delivery of care in Nova Scotia.
Dr. Gerald Gray, Psychiatry Department Head, Western Zone, Mental Health and Addictions
Nova Scotia Health Authority
Patients and HCPs from NSHA’s Cancer Care and NSHA and IWK’s Mental Health and Addictions Programs participated in the pilot. Patients downloaded the e-Health application, used in the pilot, to their personal electronic devices (e.g. cell phone, computer or tablet) to connect to their HCP, who also used the same technology. This enabled patients to receive care from any location that had a secure internet connection.
Patients that participated in the pilot generally expressed a high degree of satisfaction with their virtual visits, with 87% either strongly agreeing or agreeing with the statement that “overall, I was satisfied with my virtual visit”. From a HCP perspective, 96% indicated that the virtual visit did help accomplish the intended purpose of the appointment.
With the success of this pilot, the Virtual Care team is exploring options to integrate digital online technology into service delivery to enhance access to care, better leverage resources and facilitate a seamless patient experience. Nova Scotia Health Authority and the IWK Health Centre are committed to providing innovative, quality remote health care solutions to patients and families now and in the future.
For more information, please contact NSHA’s Virtual Care team at VirtualCare@nshealth.ca.
- Katie Heckman, Virtual Care Team Lead, Nova Scotia Health Authority Information Management & Technology
- Lauren MacDougall, Senior Advisor, Nova Scotia Health Authority, Public Engagement & Communications