A total of 132,246 – that is the number of kilometres the Saskatchewan Cerebrovascular Centre saved patients in driving from April to October 2018.
Through a Telehealth service that allows patients and physicians to meet by secure videoconference. With nearly 400 Telehealth suites available in 139 cities, towns and First Nations communities across the province, patients can drive to the nearest suite within a few minutes to approximately half an hour from their home.
“The program is very patient-centred and efficient, and it saves patients an incredible amount of time and money,” said Dr. Michael Kelly, one of two neurosurgeons who work in the Cerebrovascular Centre, which treats patients with cerebrovascular diseases like stroke and brain aneurysms.
Both Dr. Kelly and Dr. Lissa Peeling are located in Saskatoon, making it difficult and costly for patients living in other cities or remote areas of the province to visit in-person for appointments, especially in the winter months when the weather is unpredictable. In the past, patients who had long commutes may have had to take one or two days off work and stay in a hotel overnight, all for what could be a five to 10-minute appointment to hear about test results.
“Now it takes patients half an hour out of their day rather than a full day or two,” said Aaron Gardner, one of the registered nurses who work in the Cerebrovascular Centre. “Many patients can’t drive themselves, so it doesn’t only affect them but also their friends and families.”
“The Telehealth service is confidential, provides excellent image quality and the patients can bring as many people as they want to the appointment, so patients think it’s fantastic,” Gardner said, adding there has been overwhelming positive support by patients and their families for the program.
Two Telehealth suites are located at Royal University Hospital in the offices of the Saskatchewan Cerebrovascular Centre, and the program is able to offer urgent appointments on off-clinic days.
One of two Telehealth suites in the Saskatchewan Cerebrovascular Centre
“About 75 per cent of the patients we see in our cerebrovascular program are seen by Telehealth,” Dr. Peeling said, adding the only time she needs to see a patient in person is if a physical exam is required. Physicians and patients can review MRI and diagnostic imaging scans together over the Telehealth system.
“This type of visit versus extensive travelling is so, so great,” said patient Terry Langelier from Regina. Terry has used the Telehealth service for appointments on four occasions since 2017.
Shannon Mychan is also pleased with the service.
“The telehealth sessions are a very effective way to get the patient in contact with their neurosurgeon and registered nurse to discuss test results and any further treatment that is required and for the patient to have any questions they have answered by the health care team,” said Mychan. “I’m thankful for this advancement in safe, effective health care.”
About a year ago, the stroke team began offering a new service via Telehealth. In one Telehealth visit, stroke patients can now meet with their entire inter-disciplinary team – including a stroke neurosurgeon, neurologist and registered nurse – instead of meeting with their neurosurgeon and neurologist separately in different appointments at different locations.
“It has coordinated the care for patients,” Gardner said of the service. “With these appointments, patients are getting procedure follow-up and secondary stroke prevention at the same time. The Saskatoon stroke program is also expanding Telehealth capacities in stroke prevention and acute stroke management.
The program is supported by the Saskatchewan Health Authority, the Royal University Hospital Foundation and eHealth Saskatchewan.
Physicians interested in incorporating Telehealth into your practice maycontact Telehealth at 306-655-2956.