This approach is being tested in a randomized controlled trial led by London Health Sciences Centre’s (LHSC) Kidney Care Centre.
“Peritoneal dialysis enables patients to manage at home, rather than having to spend long days hooked up to dialysis machines at the hospital,” says Dr. Ed Brown, CEO, OTN. “It is usually much better for their quality of life, and certainly very much less expensive for the healthcare system, for them to do it that way. However, it's not easy to do and can be overwhelming for patients.
“We think that by giving them more support and tools that help them manage the whole process at home, we can increase their success rate. This is in line with the goals of the Ontario Renal Network, which aims to increase the percentage of home dialysis from the current 18% to 40%.”
Half of the 450-650 patients participating in the three-year study at various sites will receive a tablet with an application called eQ Connect Solution that tracks vital information like weight, blood pressure and fluid amounts. The remaining patients will serve as the control group, receiving treatment as normal.
eQ Connect Solution is a product of eQOL Inc., a company launched through Toronto’s MaRS innovation hub. It records data and instantly transmits to the patient’s care team for monitoring and to help identify any problems.
With the Women’s College Hospital Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care (WIHV), OTN will comprehensively assess measures that capture the patient experience and health outcomes in a subset of patients over one year. The project is funded by Canada Health Infoway (CHI) and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
Patients are often anxious about undergoing home-based dialysis because of the tasks they must manage, according to Dr. Arsh Jain, a Lawson scientist and LHSC Home Dialysis Program Director. “This technology records data, automates the ordering of supplies, and provides educational content and an instant means of reaching the care team, which is very helpful for patients,” he says. “Above all, the trial allows us to monitor the patients at home so we can see how they are doing.”
The goal of the study is to reduce hospitalizations, infection rates and patient transfers from in-home dialysis to dialysis in a clinical setting. “This solution has the potential to improve the patient experience and create health system savings,” says Dr. Jain. “In-home dialysis is significantly less expensive than dialysis in a clinical setting. If we can improve the experience and comfort of these patients, it will have a big impact.”
Canada Health Infoway is a proud funder of this initiative, and looks forward to the results as it seeks cost-effective innovations with the potential to deliver positive outcomes for patients across Canada.
“Providing patient care remotely allows those living with chronic illnesses to get the care they need at home, where many would rather be,” says Michael Green, President and CEO, CHI. “It has also helps improve patient outcomes while reducing hospital re-admissions and trips to the Emergency Department.”
“The future of virtual care will involve applications that view users as both patients and consumers,” says Dr. Trevor Jamieson, who leads the Virtual Care strategy at WIHV. “Patients rightly expect to access tools that not only improve their health, but also complement their overall experience with health care.
This can be achieved with more user-friendly interfaces, straightforward integration with day-to-day tasks and help with logistics like the ordering of supplies.”
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A world leader in telemedicine, OTN helps Ontarians get more out of the health care system by bridging the distance of time and geography to bring more patients the care they need, where and when they need it. Using innovative technology, OTN streamlines the healthcare process, while also expanding the way knowledge is shared and how the medical community interacts with each other and with patients. An independent, not-for-profit organization, OTN is funded by the Government of Ontario and Canada Health Infoway.
About Canada Health Infoway
Infoway helps to improve the health of Canadians by working with partners to accelerate the development, adoption and effective use of digital health across Canada. Through our investments, we help deliver better quality and access to care and more efficient delivery of health services for patients and clinicians. Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government.
About Lawson Health Research Institute
As the research institute of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph's Health Care London, and working in partnership with Western University, Lawson Health Research Institute is committed to furthering scientific knowledge to advance health care around the world. www.lawsonresearch.ca
About Women’s College Hospital Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care
The Women’s College Hospital Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care (WIHV) is developing new, scalable models of care that deliver improved outcomes for patients and sustainable solutions for the health system as a whole. For the latest on cutting edge research advancing health system solutions, follow @wchwihv on Twitter.
About eQOL Inc.
eQOL is a Canadian health technology company specializing in the development and deployment of innovative solutions to enable patients to better manage their care outside of the hospital environment. Our solutions are created to support patients to be more engage and achieve better outcomes, and in parallel, support the healthcare team to delivery higher quality care and optimize operational efficiency. This is achieved through clinical process engineering utilizing the most advanced methodologies to ensure our solutions deliver powerful functionality while being intuitive and user friendly.