Virtual patient care is happening in Saskatchewan right now.
Dr. Ivar Mendez and his team are doing pioneering work using robotics to care for patients around the province.
“This is especially relevant to Saskatchewan, as our province has a huge geographical extension and a population that is distributed across the province, including the most vulnerable segments of the population: children, the elderly and pregnant women,” he explained.
Mendez started the robotics program in Saskatchewan about five years ago. In collaboration with Drs. Tanya Holt and Veronica McKinney, their first project was to provide virtual care to children in the north.
They began in Pelican Narrows, installing a robotics system in that community to treat acutely ill children. The robot, which allows physicians not only to see patients but also to conduct thorough physical exams, meant specialists in Saskatoon were able to assess children right in Pelican Narrows, and either prescribe treatment in their home community or arrange for transportation into a larger centre, knowing what kind of specialized care was needed.
“We demonstrated that with the robot, we were able to treat children successfully on site. The transportation rate for children decreased by over 60 per cent,” Mendez said.
Robots have also been installed in Stony Rapids, LaLoche and Ile-a-la-Crosse.
Dr. Ivar Mendez and one of the robots used to provide care to parts of northern Saskatchewan. Photo by Michelle Berg