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Telemedicine breakthrough improves patient care and saves money

Telemedicine breakthrough improves patient care and saves money

TOH’s new designated telemedicine room at the Civic Campus recently went “live” – a breakthrough that allows earlier transfer of trauma patients to community hospitals closer to home, much to the relief of their families.

Having a telemedicine room large enough to accommodate a patient, family members, the entire care team and the videoconferencing equipment needed to connect them with the corresponding health-care team in the community hospital offers many benefits: happier families, shorter stays that help save TOH money, and improved patient care. When both health-care teams can plan the discharge in real time, everyone is clearer on the patient’s needs and the transition is more seamless and leads to fewer misunderstandings.

“This will help us safely expedite discharges of our trauma patients,” said Marcelle Thibeault, Clinical Manager of Trauma at the Civic Campus.

TOH has used clinical telemedicine since 2006, but until now it was mainly a doctor-here-patient-elsewhere scenario, with doctors connecting from small, office-style telemedicine rooms, said Telemedicine Coordinator Paula Archambault. Now, TOH can connect patients here with health-care teams elsewhere.

Telemedicine for trauma patients was first tested on March 8 when a patient was seen from his hospital bed in the new telemedicine room. He had an external fixator (a frame to hold fractured bones in place) that required specialized knowledge for care and positioning. His TOH team discussed his care via videoconference, using the camera that can zoom and pan, with his home community team. His wife was at the remote site also. The nurses and doctors could see the patient’s wounds, learn how to care for them, ensure they had the proper dressings available, and learn who to call if they needed help after the patient was repatriated.

“It can really put anxiety at bay for the health-care providers and the family,” said Melissa Waggott, Coordinator of Trauma Services at the Civic Campus. It also means patients can be repatriated more quickly because all the health-care providers share information during that one-hour meeting, rather than taking at least a week to arrange phone calls and emails.

In the future, telemedicine can be used to connect the General and Civic campuses so patients can see their doctors without being transferred from one campus to another.

Learn more about telemedicine at The Ottawa Hospital.


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