Telehealth Services - Manitoba
By: Josette Arevalo, Intern, AARP International
Publish Date: October
Product Name: Telehealth services
Use: increasing access to health care and improved telehealth services
Organization: Health Council of Canada and First Nations communities
Availability: Ongoing implementation
Telehealth pilot projects in Canada are demonstrating a high rate of return on investment for addressing chronic diseases. “The use of telehealth in Canada has grown by 35% annually over the past five years and further growth is projected. Telehealth and telemedicine provide nearly 80 types of clinical services across Canada.” According to the Health Council of Canada’s Progress Report 2012, several jurisdictions provide non-emergency telehealth services by phone or the web. These services offer access to nurses, pharmacists, and dietitians, and direct clients to appropriate services or locations.
The HCC Progress Report 2012 indicates that “provinces and territories are forging ahead with the development, implementation, and accreditation of their own telehealth initiatives and, as a result, they have achieved various levels of progress.” The report indicates that Manitoba, for example, is increasing telehealth services to complement health care renewal, in particular by ensuring access to residents without telephones and by integrating with primary health care.
The HCC Progress Report explains that First Nations communities across Manitoba are benefiting significantly from telehealth, primarily because of partnerships among First Nations communities and leadership, health care facilities and providers, the provincial government, Health Canada, Canada Health Infoway, and Broadband Communications North. The HCC indicates that in Manitoba, approximately 50% of the on-reserve population lives in isolated communities with limited or no road access, and another 10% lives in semi-isolated communities hours away from physician services. Thus, telehealth services bridge geographical divides and provide these remote populations access to primary health care, patient education and surgical pre-admission screening.
Developments of telehealth and telenursing services, such as the ones in Manitoba, can address the health care needs of people with limited mobility and improve access to health services. Furthermore, according to the HCC Progress Report, “studies on the use of telehealth in home settings demonstrate current and projected benefits in terms of net annual savings resulting from reduced need for home care, increased access to care, reduced hospitalizations, and improved health outcomes.” For instance, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec explained that there has been an estimate cost of $915,000 in emergency visit costs and approximately $20 million regarding in-patient costs over the telehealth study period