Telemedicine, propelled by the pandemic, is gradually taking hold in our lives | Health crisis in the Atlantic

Spread the love

Telemedicine, propelled by the pandemic, is gradually taking hold in our lives | in the Atlantic

Telemedicine is growing in popularity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made telemedicine a necessary entry into our lives, in times of great confinement, and this technology could now help to reduce some of the pressure on an already strained health system. ordeal.

For many Nova Scotians, however, the initial promise has at times proved disappointing. Tim Neufeld, 28, of Dartmouth, has been on the waiting list for a family doctor for five years. However, even appointments for a remote consultation are very difficult to obtain.

The biggest hurdle is getting into the system, having to log in between 8:59 a.m. and 9:09 a.m., he says. After 9:10 a.m., all appointments for the day were already booked.

Sara Wallace, 48, of Dartmouth, compared the user experience to trying to #x27;buy tickets to rock concerts.

Nova Scotia launched its telemedicine platform in May 2021, and it now has 67 healthcare professionals — doctors and nurse practitioners — that offer virtual consultations.

Brendan Elliot, a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, said in an email that there are between 150 and 200 virtual consultation slots on a typical weekday, for the 120,400 people of the province without a family doctor. Mr. Elliot acknowledges that demand is high; he says the province is trying to recruit more doctors and nurses to participate.

Zen Tharani, founder and CEO of digital consultancy Xenex Consulting, from Victoria, said it's normal for there to be problems at the start of the implementation of such a program. telemedecine. But it's not normal to have to rush to get the line.

A system like Nova Scotia's, which requires a fast connection for a short period of time, is likely to be a barrier for those with poor internet connections or who are less comfortable with digital tools, Mr. Tharani, who has been in the industry for 22 years.

As provinces implement different methods of virtual care, access is a little different in New Brunswick , where appointments are available to everyone, not just those without a family doctor.

Kelly Stokes, of Saint John, uses telemedicine for herself and her young daughter through the province's eVisitNB app.

The eVisitNB virtual consultation platform was launched in January 2020.

After a rocky start, the 27-year-old said the experience has improved recently as some consultations have been referred to nurse practitioners or doctors in other provinces. She says a nurse practitioner in Ontario cared for her daughter last month.

New Brunswick's eVisitNB system is made up primarily of nurse practitioners and a few doctors who can work remotely from other parts of the country.

Like Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island is offering virtual appointments for citizens without a family doctor. This represents approximately 12% of the population in Nova Scotia and over 15% in Prince Edward Island.

In Newfoundland and Labrador , where the medical association reported in June that about 24% of residents did not have primary care, virtual appointments are available to everyone. Appointments are provided by telemedicine company Medicuro, of Springdale, Newfoundland, which employs 16 physicians across the province.

Last month, the medical director of a virtual clinic Medicuro asked the government to raise the cap on the number of daily appointments funded by the province. Dr. Todd Young said the provincial limit of 40 virtual appointments per day is far too low given the number of residents without a family doctor and the circulation of influenza, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus .

Zen Tharani said that while virtual care may not work for everything, it can be used strategically to increase the efficiency of preoperative and postoperative care, emergency medicine, and patient care. mental health.

The problem, he says, is that the development of telemedicine has taken place at lightning speed, under the pressure of the pandemic. It is difficult, because a lot of things happen in panic when you are in reaction mode, he said, adding that it was necessary to take a step back and ask a question. take a critical look at the system.

Tim Neufeld and Sara Wallace have both said that once their appointments were made, they appreciated the x27;experience using virtual care.

Ms. Wallace, who lost the family doctor she had always had when he closed his practice in June, said the teleconsultation obtained on his fifth attempt led to an in-person consultation six weeks later.

And that in-person consultation at a reserved Halifax clinic to virtual patients alone has been the most thorough medical appointment of my adult life, nowhere near the crowded walk-in clinics it has had already been visited in his region.

With information from La Presse canadienne

Previous Article
Next Article